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Berkeley County appoints assistant county engineer

April 26, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission on Thursday approved the hiring of an assistant county engineer who they said will take the place of three vacant positions.

Angela K. Bowers will be paid $75,000 annually, Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis said.

A licensed professional engineer, Bowers would assume direction of the County Engineering Department in the absence of County Engineer William T. "Bucky" Teach, commissioners said.

The hiring decision came shortly after the commission heard complaints from a builder and developer who faulted the engineering department for belated enforcement of the county's 2004 storm-water management ordinance for minor subdivision projects. The storm-water management rules are separate from the county's traditional development guidelines outlined in the subdivision ordinance.

Minor subdivisions can have fewer than seven lots, but lots in small developments that are smaller than two acres are supposed to follow storm-water management guidelines, according to the county's ordinances.

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Teach told the commission Thursday that his department didn't have enough staff to catch all of the smaller residential projects and make them abide by the rules, which he is charged with enforcing.

"I'd say there's hundreds out there," Teach said.

Curtis Keesecker, president of Elk Branch Builders Inc. in Martinsburg, told the commission Thursday that he didn't discover the need for storm-water management on the property where he is building a house until after county engineers inspected the building site for two other requirements.

"I feel like a shuttlecock in a badminton game," said Keesecker, who noted the plat of the property was recorded with the county and appeared in compliance.

County legal counsel Norwood Bentley III was sympathetic to Keesecker's claimed investment of $30,000 in the project, and aimed his criticism at the developer who had the plat recorded.

Bentley said the developer had an obligation to know and follow the law, and believed that rules for minor subdivisions, in addition to the storm-water management ordinance, generally have been abused for "a long time by a lot of people" in Berkeley County.

"I feel sorry for people who get caught in this, but I don't feel sorry enough to dump the rules and regulations," Bentley said.

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