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Commission receives Rumsey Green update

By Staff | Sep 30, 2011

At a special meeting of the Shepherdstown Planning Commission Monday, commissioners heard an update regarding the Rumsey Green project as well as recommended to town council revisions and adoptions to Title 9 for approval.

Chaz Schultz, a member of Rumsey Development Group, and Mark Dick, of William H. Gordon Associates, briefed the commission on headway made on the Route 45 traffic study as well as other planning ideas for west of town.

Schultz said traffic counts have been tabulated by RKK Engineering. The planning commission should hear a formal update on the study come October.

Dick, whose firm works with the Rumsey Development Group as well as the City of Ranson, said that he is working with both the Shepherdstown Public Library and the development group as they look at building on what he calls the “triangle” – the bypass and Routes 45 and 480.

Dick told the commission he believed it was a “good start” to consider a consultant to assist in the Rumsey Green project; however, he believed there needed to be leadership in the entire planning of the triangle, which would eliminate planning it parcel by parcel, lot by lot.

“I strongly believe that … Shepherdstown should annex the whole triangle because that’s the only way you’ll get control of it,” Dick said. “I strongly encourage you get to the larger issue of that area.”

Commissioner David Springer said the town usually responds to property owner requests, and he did not think the town’s annexation policy addressed town-sponsored annexations. The town’s annexation policy, adopted by town council in March of 2008, does not specifically address whether or not town-sponsored annexations are acceptable.

Town resident Zenia Kuzma let the Rumsey Development Group know about the educated and dedicated population of the town who cares about what happens in and around it.

“We’ve had annexation problems before and it’s a button for most residents,” she said. “We really love our village and you need to keep that in mind.”

Commission President Josh Stella told Schultz and Dick that the town is performing “postmortems” on past annexations to figure out rights and wrongs of those processes.

“When it comes to annexation in Shepherdstown, there are a lot of divergent opinions,” he said. “I think it’s definitely in the cards to find out where the town is on these things.”

Also at the meeting, commissioners unanimously voted to recommend to town council to approve revisions and adoptions to Title 9 regarding historic preservation and erosion control. The town council will address the items at its next meeting on Oct. 11 in Town Hall.

The commission also unanimously approved a motion made by Commissioner David Rosen to look into resources for additional personnel for the town.

Mayor Jim Auxer said that Zoning Officer Harvey Heyser was overloaded with work, and now planning commission members, who are volunteers of government, needed to help with follow-up and enforcement of building permits approved.

Heyser and Auxer talked about commissioners following up with applicants to be sure they are staying on track with their projects.

But there seemed to be confusion as to who the enforcer would be if something would go awry – commissioners or Heyser.

“Follow-up is one thing. Enforcement’s another,” said Chris Stroech, planning commission vice president. “I want to approach this very carefully.”

Commissioner Kathryn Bragg-Stella said, after the mayor mentioned hiring another person for the town, that it might help because the commission continues to take on more tasks as the town continues to assess its vision.

“Our plate has gotten bigger – or there’s more of them,” she said.

The next planning commission meeting will take place Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.