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Public hearing to be held in Martinsburg for proposed changes to Windewald Neighborhood

August 16, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A public hearing will be held Monday on proposed changes to an ordinance that could allow a pharmacy and other retail businesses to open in an area of Berkeley County just outside the city of Martinsburg.

The hearing on text amendments proposed for the Windewald Neighborhood Zoning Ordinance will be held by the Berkeley County Planning Commission at the board’s 6 p.m. meeting in Berkeley County Council chambers at 400 W. Stephen St. in Martinsburg.

Ronald Mislowsky, an engineer with Patton Harris Rust & Associates, confirmed Thursday that he asked county planning officials last month to amend the zoning ordinance to allow a proposed Walgreens pharmacy to be built in the neighborhood.

Established in September 1975, the zoning district encompasses a relatively small area in Martinsburg’s south end near the intersection of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 45, according to the Berkeley County Planning Department. It includes blocks of Winchester and Sheridan avenues, and Thompson and Jefferson streets, according to the planning department.

Even if the ordinance is changed, Mislowsky said “a few hoops” still would need to be jumped through, which include state highway approval for an entrance to Walgreens.

Mislowsky said he is working with the same developer who built the Walgreens in Martinsburg’s north end, but believes the text amendments are needed whether the pharmacy ultimately locates in the zoning district or not.

The special zoning district is one of three in Berkeley County, which has not adopted a countywide zoning ordinance, according to planning department Director Michael Thompson.

The text amendments not only propose to permit a pharmacy to operate in the neighborhood, but would allow antique shops, liquor stores, bakeries, convenience stores, banks, hardware stores, auto repair/gas stations, day-care facilities and “other similar uses as determined by the planning commission.”

Types of businesses currently allowed in the zoned district include barbershops and beauty shops, funeral homes, business offices and bulk storage, according to the ordinance.

Changes proposed for the ordinance regarding off-street parking, signs, lot size and yard requirements are necessary with the addition of retail uses being considered, Thompson told planning commission members in a memorandum on the text amendments.

If the planning commission recommends the proposed text amendments, the Berkeley County Council still must approve the changes to the ordinance, Thompson said.

Thompson said the text amendment changes are possibly the first ever proposed for the ordinance. Since it was created, the zoning district has shrunken due to annexations by the city of Martinsburg, according to the planning department.

Since Windewald’s inception, Thompson said courts have ruled against the creation of neighborhood zoning districts like it and the county’s other zoned area known as the Tuscarora Community Zoning District. Located west of Interstate 81 off Tuscarora Pike, the district also was created in 1975, according to the planning department.

The only other zoning district restricts development around Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport, Thompson said.

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