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Sketch plan for Bunker Hill business project nearer to approval

Planning commissioner says businessman repeatedly 'thumbed his nose' at Land Use Planning and Engineering regulations

August 10, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --A developer's sketch plan for opening a business licensed to serve alcohol south of Bunker Hill, W.Va., near the Virginia line advanced through the Berkeley County Planning Commission's approval process Monday, but not without criticism.

Citing records of multiple violations concerning the project at 12789 Winchester Ave., Berkeley County Commissioner Ronald K. Collins said he believed Martinsburg businessman Brent Jackson repeatedly "thumbed his nose" at Berkeley County Department of Land Use Planning and Engineering regulations.

Jackson failed to obtain a permit before demolishing a home at the project site, according to county records.

Several dump-truck loads of debris from the demolition were then illegally dumped near a sinkhole on the Bryarly Manor Orchard property at 500 Corning Way, according to county records.

The 0.4-acre Bunker Hill project site, which is about 300 feet from the Berkeley County-Frederick County (Va.) line, also was covered in gravel with no site plan, according to county records.

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Stefanie Miller, director of the county's Land Use Planning and Engineering Department, sent Jackson a "cease and desist" letter regarding the site work, and engineering staff also issued a stop-work order, according to county records.

"Hopefully, this is not going to be a continual thing that's going to happen in the future," Collins said.

Aside from the Bunker Hill project, Collins, who is the Berkeley County Commission's representative on the planning commission, cited records of violations at three other projects in which Jackson has an interest.

At two of the properties, a residence at 2745 Middleway Pike and a day-care center at 168 Welltown Road, remodeling work to convert them to Limited Video Lottery gaming establishments was being done without a permit and no change of use was obtained for the property, according to a summary of the violations that the County Land Use Planning and Engineering Department prepared for Collins.

Jackson, who appeared for Monday's meeting with attorney Floyd M. "Kin" Sayre III, said he understood the commission's concern when Collins asked him about the repeated violations.

Jackson declined to comment about the Bunker Hill project when contacted Tuesday. He told the planning commission that his Winchester Avenue business would be licensed by the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration. Limited Video Lottery-licensed establishments are required by state law to obtain an ABCA license.

Sayre acknowledged that Jackson was responsible for the demolition work that he contracted to be done. The attorney also said that the debris, some of which contained asbestos, was not properly disposed. Jackson obtained a demolition permit from the county after the destruction was done andpaid for the cleanup of the illegal dump site, Sayre said.

The mitigation effort required hauling some of the debris to a landfill in Frostburg, Md., according to county records.

"He has cured all the issues," said Sayre, who added Tuesday that he believed his client spent more than $30,000 to clean up the property.

The illegal dump at Bryarly Manor was reported in January 2009 by a real estate broker who estimated that 20 to 25 truckloads of debris had been hauled there.

Photographs of the illegal dump taken Jan. 6, 2009, depict piles of broken lumber, spouting, wiring and other material, including tires. A large pile of old roof slate also was photographed.

The dump was cleaned up by Feb. 5, 2009, and the case was closed, according to county records. Jackson was not cited.

In a written statement, a contractor said he didn't realize the dump site was illegal because he was doing what Jackson paid him to do, according to county records.

The illegally dumped material was linked to Jackson's Bunker Hill property by an envelope that was found in the debris, according to county records.

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