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Pending Berkeley County projects could be 'grandfathered' if zoning is approved

May 06, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- If zoning is approved by voters next week in Berkeley County, developers with pending projects could have 90 days to request to be "grandfathered" from the new land-use rules, according to a policy unanimously recommended Monday by the county's planning commission.

The plan was forwarded to the Berkeley County Commission for adoption on Thursday, according to legal counsel Norwood Bentley III.

As proposed, developers would have to provide documentation within 90 days after the May 13 primary election to the county planning department that supports their grandfathering request and proves they invested substantially in a project.

In an open discussion at the planning commission's meeting Monday, Bentley agreed with attorney Ken Barton that a state Supreme Court of Appeals case should be the county's guiding force for making a decision on each pending development project.

The high court's opinion included a four-part test, including whether a developer spent a substantial amount of money on a project and was working "in good faith" to finalize the plans.

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The planning commission decided Monday that each developer's submission of evidence would be reviewed by the county's planning department staff, which would then make a recommendation to the Berkeley County Planning Commission for review.

Bentley acknowledged that grandfathering the projects would eliminate the opportunity for the county to collect new fees proposed to coincide with the adoption of the zoning ordinance.

But Bentley said developers of such a grandfathered projects would still have to pay the new zoning fees if they wanted to make a request that only would be considered through the county's zoning ordinance.

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