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Berkeley Co. wants housing projects completed

September 15, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Work left unfinished at a dozen housing projects in Berkeley County is on track to be completed by someone other than the developer who was responsible.

The Berkeley County Planning Commission on Monday authorized Commission President Donald Fox to sign demand letters notifying banks that bonds required for each of the projects will be pulled.

The action will allow the banks, homeowners association, county or some other party to make sure that required signage, drainage work, paving and other work is finished.

"We're talking about millions (of dollars) in bonds," Planning Director Stefanie Allemong said.

If the county is left with the bonds to do the work, prevailing wage requirements will increase by about 30 percent for any project and likely reduce what is left to be completed.

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The housing projects commissioners approved for pulling letters of credit are Apple Knolls (Estates) off Dry Run Road west of Martinsburg; Mills Farm off Nadenbousch Lane near Inwood, W.Va.; Summer Hill off Paynes Ford Road near Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport; Green Meadows Subdivision off Ambrosia Lane near Nadenbousch Lane; Bunker Hill (W.Va.) Townhouses off U.S. 11 near Giles Mill Road; and Baker Heights Townhomes near the intersection of Needy and Van Clevesville roads east of Martinsburg.

Bonds in place for section five of Mills Farm ($500,578) and section one of Apple Knolls ($363,681) were among some of the largest to be pulled, according to county planning department records.

"It could take months (to get the work done), but it is now in the process, and it's going to happen," Allemong said after the meeting.

Allemong said the planning department has been receiving phone calls from residents about street signage not yet installed, unfinished paving and ditch work, among other complaints.

In a staff report to the planning commission, the planning department staff indicated they made several attempts to contact developers regarding issues with their projects "to no avail."

"Several of the projects have gone through foreclosure and letters of credit need to be pulled," according to the report.

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