Berkeley County planning officials host roundtable meeting with construction and development community

January 13, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Several prominent members of the area construction and development community turned out Friday morning for the first-ever roundtable meeting hosted by Berkeley County planning officials.

"We want to open up communications with all of you," county Planning Director Michael Thompson said.

The main purpose of the sessions — which Thompson said he hoped to hold on a quarterly basis — will be to share information with the development community.

"It makes it easier for everybody ... if we're all on the same page," Thompson told the informal gathering of developers, engineers, surveyors and others with an interest in the construction industry.

 For those unable to attend the session held in the Berkeley County Council chambers, Thompson said information about what was discussed can be sent to them via email.

The next meeting is set for April 13, Thompson said after Friday's hourlong session.  

Thompson welcomed suggestions on how to help make the county's review process run smoother and said officials are already considering some changes if they comply with state law.

"We would prefer that we only see each project once, and then its approved, if at all possible," Thompson said. "We realize time is money for everybody."

Thompson said he hoped to notify the development community via email of proposed changes to the county's subdivision regulations before a public hearing is held this spring.

"The biggest thing I hate to hear is 'Well, nobody ever told me,'" Thompson said. "I'm going to try to tell you everything."

 Thompson said he and County Engineer Kimberly L. Shrader are working closely to coordinate project reviews.

One person attendee suggested efforts be made to also coordinate the plan reviews by outside agencies, such as the state Division of Highways and the Berkeley County Health Department.

Thompson responded favorably and agreed that could be explored.  

In brief remarks, Shrader noted that stormwater-management regulations are required for car-sale lots if owners are disturbing over 5,000 square feet.

Shrader also noted that the requirements are more stringent for such businesses because they are considered "hotspots" by environment protection officials.

Thompson said the development community may very well see more changes in stormwater regulations, which he noted are going to "tighten up" due to environmental regulations put in place to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Participants lauded the informal sessions, which developer Steve Cunningham called "refreshing."

Cunningham said there seemed to be an "us versus them mentality" by previous county officials.

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