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Berkeley Co. to consider sketch plan for 24.6-acre worship center

December 04, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A sketch plan application for a 24.6-acre worship and education center along Interstate 81 near Martinsburg will be considered Monday during a public hearing in the Berkeley County Commission chambers.

The Living Room project, which proposes a 49,087-square-foot civic arena, a 25,447-square-foot student life center and eight campus housing dormitories, is to be reviewed by the Berkeley County Planning Commission during its 7 p.m. meeting in the commission chambers at 400 W. Stephen St.

County planning and engineering staff members have recommended the project off Rock Cliff Drive north of Martinsburg be forwarded to the preliminary plan stage of review because it complies with county rules for development.

A performing arts and sports arena that would seat 3,000 people, 18 skyboxes, an NCAA regulation-size basketball court, children's and student theaters, a bookstore, an espresso bar, a cafe, office suites and educational rooms are among the features listed in a brochure the church has published about the project. Outdoor recreation areas, softball fields and an outdoor amphitheater are noted in documents submitted to the county for review.

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Church officials this week requested an interview scheduled Thursday with church leader Kevin Green be rescheduled next week.

In a video about the church titled "One Remarkable Journey" and posted on its Web site, Green says the construction of a facility along I-81 is part of a vision that God gave to him and his wife, Beth. The Living Room now is at 50 Monroe St., in the Berkeley Plaza Shopping Center.

The project originally was submitted to county planning officials in November 2007, but the church made changes to the plans and resubmitted them, according to Andy DiMagno of P.C. DiMagno Engineers & Surveyors.

"It's pretty well laid out," DiMagno said.

A 220-room hotel that is referred to in a traffic impact study completed for the church project in October 2009 is not part of The Living Room's property, DiMagno said.

He said he believes the hotel is being eyed for property that is near The Living Room's project, so it was included in the traffic impact study prepared by HDR Engineering Inc. of Weirton, W.Va.

The church development "is not expected to significantly impact the overall operations" of the Hedgesville Road/Rock Cliff Drive and Rock Cliff Drive/Tavern Road intersections, according to HDR's findings.

The effect of the church's special events, such as concerts, on traffic conditions was not analyzed because they will be infrequent, HDR concluded in its study.

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What: Public hearing on proposed worship and education center

When: Monday, 7 p.m.

Where: Berkeley County Commission chambers, 400 W. Stephen St., Martinsburg, W.Va.

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