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Charles Town council denies hearing request for proposed drugstore

February 21, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN. W.Va. — On a 5-3 vote Tuesday, the Charles Town City Council denied requests from nearly 100 residents to hold a public hearing on the building of a proposed CVS Pharmacy downtown.

The requests came to the council in letters signed by 94 residents opposed to the new pharmacy at the corner of West Washington and North West streets. They’re upset because the project will cause the demolition of four buildings in the Downtown Charles Town Historic District. Included is a decrepit 18th-century log home long since covered in siding on the corner of North West and Liberty streets.

The project has received initial approval from the city’s planning commission and the blessing of its Historic Landmark Commission.

The West Virginia Division of Highways has approved left-hand turns into the parking lot by eastbound traffic and right turns by vehicles heading west. It denied a CVS request to allow vehicles exiting the parking lot to turn east on to Washington Street.

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Construction also would cost the loss of five parking spaces on West Washington Street.

Most of those who spoke in opposition cited the threat to the city’s historic preservation efforts and whether a big-box store in the historic district could cost the city grants and tax credits from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

CVS already operates two nearby drugstores, one in Charles Town and one in Ranson, W.Va. The company would close both if the new store is built, city officials have said.

Jim Keaton, one of the handful of residents who spoke in favor of the project, asked the council to consider him to “be a member of the multitude who did not write letters to you in support of the CVS.”

Councilman Richard Bringewatt, speaking for the opponents, said the project shouldn’t be “all or nothing. We can do this for economic development and deal with historic preservation at the same time in the best interests of Charles Town.”

Until a few years ago, the only downtown drugstore was Stuck & Alger. Bringewatt said when that store closed, CVS company officials paid the owner of the building not to rent the vacant space to another pharmacy.

“There’s a lot of misinformation. We need to know the facts,” he said.

While the tone of Tuesday’s open discussion before the council was civil, anger over the vote things turned into a screaming match among several speakers outside City Hall.

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