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Berkeley County voters reject zoning by nearly 2-to-1 margin

Transferable Development Rights ordinance suffers same fate

Transferable Development Rights ordinance suffers same fate

May 14, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- Berkeley County voters appear to have rejected a proposed zoning ordinance Tuesday, 12 years after county officials tallied another defeat of land-use regulations.

With all precincts and early votes counted, 33.6 percent, or 5,689, voted for the zoning ordinance and 66.4 percent, or 11,241, voted against it, according to complete, unofficial results. Tallies counted Tuesday night will be canvassed Friday beginning at 9 a.m.

The vote on the companion, Transferable Development Rights ordinance, was similar, with 30.7 percent of the ballots cast in favor of the new regulation and 69.2 percent against.

Opponents to the ordinances had placed numerous blue-and-white "vote no zoning" signs along county roads and highways. Some custom-made signs suggested the land-use regulations would result in higher taxes and a taking of property rights.

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County officials said the ordinances would not stop growth, but steer it toward areas better served by public water, sewer and roads. They also argued that billboards and other undesirable business enterprises, such as adult entertainment clubs, would be prevented from locating next to residential areas as a result of the zoning regulations.

Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Hammond said Monday that some of the same "parties" mostly opposed to the zoning ordinance who were taking part in the debate leading up to this year's election also were involved years ago. Hammond was the planning director when the zoning ordinance proposed in 1996 was defeated in the primary election.

Hammond said she felt it would be "intriguing" for her to see the results on the zoning vote in various areas of the county.

When tapped as the county's planning director in September 1993, Hammond said the first draft of the zoning ordinance already had been drafted and needed about the same amount of time to finalize as the current version.

"I can certainly empathize with (the planning department staff)," Hammond said. She said she spoke to any organization that would give her a microphone, and the county had informational sessions in all of the county's magisterial districts. Officials held 10 public hearings and about as many educational outreach sessions prior to this year's vote.

More than $100,000 has been authorized by county officials for drafting the land-use ordinances on the ballot this year. The financing primarily came from fees collected by the county's planning and engineering departments, officials have said.

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