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Council hears annexation proposal

By Staff | Jan 6, 2011

Town Council held a special meeting Jan.5 to listen to the first reading of the proposal for the annexation of Rumsey Green, a new multi-use complex that will be built along Route 45. No motions were passed, but more information was requested for the next meeting that is forthcoming.

The land being considered is not within the Corporation of Shepherdstown limits – yet.

The Rumsey Development Group would prefer to get this parcel of land annexed by the Corporation of Shepherdstown and work with town council rather than Jefferson County. Each of the team’s members have had experience working with both governing bodies and they all agree that the town is easier, cheaper and faster.

Eric Lewis acted as the spokesperson for the Rumsey Development Group at Wednesday’s special town council meeting. The group is comprised of several community members. Brothers Cricky and Chaz Shultz and Chris Colbert, all Rumsey members, were also in attendance.

Annexing a project of this size has several steps. If things progress as planned, they could be turning earth as soon as July 2011.

“Our vision is to build five buildings on the land with some parking in the middle and around the buildings,” Lewis said.

They have 14.5 acres along Route 45. This area includes the grain silos besides Sheetz, a few residential homes and several bare acres.

They have three potential lessees – Sheetz, urgent care and a bank. The current Sheetz would close, the tanks and canopy would be removed. A new Sheetz would be built on this site.

“The developers will only build the phases once they have anchor stores signed in a contract. Contracts will be easier to get once they have the annexation and building permits,” Cricky Shultz said.

The developers want to attract services that the town doesn’t already have. They are investigating medical services, such as an orthodontist, or business services, like mailbox alternatives. The developers welcome suggestions.

In the center, towards the back of the land, they are planning a large building, built in the same style as downtown Shepherdstown. They plan on it being three stories with different facades and rooflines. The lower level would be retail space with an anchor upscale grocery store. The second floor would be office space and the third floor would be wheelchair-accessible apartments with an elevator.

Traffic flow was a big concern for many of those present. The development group is considering the

following to improve the current traffic flow and to accommodate this new project:

A traffic light in front of their two lane entrance. They are talking with Shepherd University to move the West Campus entrance to the other side of Dominos to be served by the light also.

Sidewalks along the front of their project and along German Street to match up with the existing sidewalk. Eventually, this sidewalk would be able to access the 480 bypass sidewalk and people could ride from town to Morgan’s Grove Park on a sidewalk.

Meredith Wait, president of the Shepherdstown Business Association asked the mayor if the developers will be working with the town planning commission once the annexation takes place.

“The guys will have to work with the zoning, planning and historic landmark commissions once the property is annexed” Mayor Jim Auxer said.

Some concerns were raised about detracting from the downtown businesses.

“The last thing we want to do is detract from the downtown. We want to offer other services that would not fit in our downtown area but that people are having to go elsewhere for,” Lewis said.

“It is a business owner’s prerogative to move to the new location,” Councilor Lori Robertson said.

Adam Shively, Shepherdstown resident, suggested offering services that might encourage college students to stay in town over weekends.

“Hardware for small fix-it projects, inexpensive food choices, whatever it is they go home for. That’s 4,000 potential customers,” Shively said.

Annexation involves several public hearings. Wednesday’s meeting was step one. But the council needs more information.

“We would need much more specific plans before anything could be approved. At this point in time, there are good intentions to move forward,” said Councilor Josh Stella.

Mayor Auxer was appreciative of the 40 or more people who attended. He said that when they held a similar public meeting to tell people about the water treatment plans where the town planned to spend $9.3 million, nobody turned out.

“I would like to encourage the public to come to the meetings and give their comments,” Mayor Auxer said.

Community members are welcome to send their suggestions or comments to clerk@shepherdstown.us

Lewis is also willing to answer questions or comments. He can be reached at 304-728-6877.