Berkeley Co. board OKs subdivision phase

June 23, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

How they voted

Ronald K. Collins, No

Gary Matthews, No

Thomas Conlan, No

Richard Rauch, No

John Jeans, Yes

H. Daniel Gantt, Yes

Gary Phalen, Yes

Ted Bostic, Yes

Donald Fox, Yes

Eric Goff, Absent


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The Berkeley County Planning Commission Monday night narrowly recommended approval of the third section of Willowbrook subdivision, with at least four commissioners having trouble with the state's definition of "intermittent stream."

"If it isn't wet now, when would it be wet?" asked Commission Gary Matthews of the rainy weather that has persisted this spring.

The 72 single-family-lot project on 83.8 acres proposed on the east side of Poorhouse Road west of Martinsburg attracted several residents who are concerned about developer James Howard's plans, which were defended at the meeting by attorney John E. Swift IV.

Howard was absent for the 5-4 vote that gave him the green light to move forward with the development, contingent upon soil testing to determine if any toxins from the property's days as an orchard remain.

Commissioners also want clarification from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection on the definition of an intermittent stream, specifically how it applies to the Willowbrook project.

The stream in question is the proposed destination for the discharge from a package sewage treatment plant that is in the development's designs to serve the residential project.

The intermittent stream, when flowing, would feed into Tuscarora Creek, which flows through the City of Martinsburg to Opequon Creek, which flows into the Potomac River.

"I'm questioning whether this stream flows at all," Matthews said. "I don't think (the DEP) understand the situation -- it looks like a ditch to us."

County Commissioner Ronald K. Collins, who joined Matthews, Thomas Conlan and Richard Rauch in voting against approving the project's preliminary plat, said he didn't believe the apparent increase in runoff from the property into Tuscarora Creek was allowed, citing a December 2005 meeting on the development.

In addition to the stream question, Conlan questioned the credibility of findings by the developer's engineer, Huntley, Nyce & Associates Ltd., which found no evidence of an orchard on the property when copies of a deed presented to commissioners clearly state as much.

"I think we just have a credibility problem," Conlan said. "This is a critical issue, we're on the wrong track if we make this (approval) contingent."

John Jeans, H. Daniel Gantt, Ted Bostic and Gary Phalen voted for the project and Commission president Donald Fox joined them to break the tie. Eric Goff was absent.

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