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More comments sought on plans for U.S. 340 corridor

June 29, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The seven-mile stretch of U.S. 340 north from the W.Va. 9 Bypass in Charles Town to the Shendandoah River bridge in Harpers Ferry will continue to be the topic of much debate through the end of the year.

Jefferson County government officials, the West Virginia Highway Department, a regional planning group, the federal government and area citizens are among the interested parties.

So far, according to Jennifer Brockman, the county’s planning director, the “340 Corridor” has been the subject of two meetings, including a kickoff session March 26 with more than 130 residents attending and a public meeting June 16 with more than 60 in attendance.

A second public meeting is scheduled for Sept. 17 in the Charlestown Library meeting room, and a third will be held Dec. 6, also in the library, to chose one of three alternative land-use options, Brockman said.

At each session, attendees were asked for their thoughts on such topics as transportation, parks and greenways, community services, economic opportunities, land use and historic resources.

Planning department staffers compiled 10 pages summarizing their comments.

Comments included improved safety of the roadway, an alternative route to Maryland, improved access to Bolivar, W.Va., a commuter lot, biking/hiking trails, sidewalks, reducing truck traffic.

Other ideas included: a bypass around Charles Town, convert 340 to a toll road, taking money from fire departments to fund parks, easing regulations to promote more commercial development, preserving natural and cultural features, banning neon lights, connecting with area doctors to “prescribe” exercise as opposed to medication.

Not ready to stop there, planning department staffers are seeking more opinions from residents through an interactive Website, http://rt340.metroquest.com/. The site covers five topics, including how the corridor should evolve, priorities, an interactive map, a survey and ways to stay involved in the process.

The study area includes the seven-mile south-north stretch of 340 plus one mile east and west of the highway. Most of the land is already zoned for residential although there are some commercial zones, Brockman said.

“The end result of the study will be changes in the comprehensive plan and subsequent zoning change requests,” she said.

“We really want people to take part in the online survey, especially those who can’t make the meetings,” Brockman said.

The goal of the effort “is to involve landowners and citizens within the corridor in the process to create a small area plan,” he said.

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