The Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals granted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to local developer Peter Corum for his Morgan's Grove Market expansion after hearing testimony for several hours during a public hearing last Thursday. The issuance of the CUP came after the Jefferson County Commission denied a request to rezone the property from rural to commercial/industrial several months ago.
The public hearing resulted after a Compatibility Assessment meeting held March 2 ended with unresolved issues between the applicant and neighboring entities. Following that meeting, there were 19 points that were labeled as "unresolved" in a draft document issued by the county's Planning and Zoning staff. Addressing those issues was the role of the BZA members who listened to public comment on the matter and voted to issue the CUP.
During the public hearing, Corum gave an overview of the project along with his associate, Fred Blackmer and their attorney Linda Gutsall. The project, according to the documentation submitted to the planning offices, calls for the establishment of "an agricultural based economic empowerment zone." Intended uses for the property include a food hub, general merchandise (retail), professional/business offices, community amenities and other associated uses.
Issues had been raised by neighbors of the property with regard to exactly what businesses or entities fell into those categories. In the list of unresolved issues, there was a request to prohibit convenience stores and fueling stations. The BZA agreed, in part to this request in their list of conditions placed on the granting of the CUP. According to the draft minutes of the meeting, drive-through restaurants and gas pumps will not be allowed at the site.
Other major concerns brought out in the March 2 meeting had to do with water and sewer issues. A proposal had been made by the applicant to possibly build a self-contained sewer treatment facility; however, the BZA has instructed that they must hook up to public water and sewer. In addition, concerns about Town Run were addressed in that should the developers, in the future, install a swimming pool at the location, no water from that pool will be placed into Town Run.
An unresolved issue of buffering between the property to be developed and neighbors including Morgan's Grove Park, was high on the list of concerns by those opposing the project. The BZA addressed concerns by stipulating that the developer will provide a 10-foot landscape buffer alongside property lines adjacent to Morgan's Grove Park and the Wilson property. No fences are required. The BZA did grant that there will be access points established between the park and the development despite requests from those opposing the project.
In addition to these items, the BZA also addressed such things as business hours for the development which will fall between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. while construction hours for the development of the property fall between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Setback issues also fell on the list of unresolved items and the BZA offered the following conditions in that regard: a 50-foot front setback and 75-foot side setbacks for proposed buildings and a 35-foot side setback for parking have been established. No parking shall be located along Route 480; only behind any buildings along Route 480.
Another area specifically addressed by the board was that of floor area. Gross floor area is restricted to 60,000 square feet with the maximum building footprint sized at 30,000 square feet. According to Christy Huddle, member of the BZA who read the conditions following the group's executive session to discuss the project, this will encourage two-story buildings. Signage, lighting and building design have been stipulated to be "rural in character." No further definition was given to elaborate on what "rural in character" could encompass. The only stipulation given was that all four sides of a building must be "rural".
The developer, in the initial request to build out the property, listed several uses which were specifically addressed by the BZA members. According to the draft conditions, "The use 'Hardware Store' is replaced with 'Hardware Store/Garden Center.' The use "Medical, Dental, Optical, Health Clinic (small)' is replaced with 'Family Health Clinic.' The use 'Banking, Accounting, Insurance' is amended to add provision 'only as accessory uses.' The use "Other types of professional./business offices' is amended to add the provision 'small scale.'"
A complete list of the draft conditions is available at the county's website: www.jeffersoncountywv.org under the Office of Planning and Zoning.
Corum was unavailable to comment on project; however, a press release was issued following the BZA's ruling indicating that Brechbill & Helman Construction Company, Inc., of Chambersburg, Pa., has been awarded a design-build contract for the Morgan's Grove Market campus. The release indicated that Phase I of the project will begin in October and will consist of two 12,000 square foot buildings with a rural agricultural-industrial design. Phases II and III will consist of three additional 12,000 square foot facilities.