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Town Council meeting discusses Market House renovation, MARC train, WVDEP litter control grant

By Staff | Sep 20, 2019

Corporation of Shepherdstown Zoning Officer Andy Beall answers questions about an ordinance that would change the town's Project Permit Fee Schedule. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Corporation of Shepherdstown Town Council met on Sept. 10 for its monthly meeting in Town Hall, during which renovation to the Market House, the MARC train issue and WVDEP litter control grant were all discussed.

The council also approved Shepherdstown’s Christmas Parade on Dec. 7 and Christmas in Shepherdstown, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 24.

“What I’ve tried to do here is massage these categories and regroup these projects. I’ve tried to separate accessory structures into different categories,” said Corporation of Shepherdstown Zoning Officer Andy Beall, as he answered questions about an ordinance to amend the Project Permit Fee Schedule in Section 9-902, Subpart XIV of Chapter 9 of The Code of Shepherdstown.

While some of the changes to the application fees made sense, such as the different fees for accessory structures with and without permanent foundations, the Town Council passed a motion for the ordinance to go back to the Planning Commission.

“While I totally appreciate the cost decrease in some areas, the cost increase is severe,” said council member David Rosen. “I just think it’s kind of shocking for the residents of this town, for the fees one day to be this, the next day is so much more. I’m kind of worried about not increasing it gradually. Category three went from .1 percent to 2 percent of the value of $50,000. That is a 1,900 percent increase — that’s massive.”

Shepherdstown resident and Opera House Live owner Steve Pearson agreed with Rosen, as he talked about the renovation of his historic building, which flooded on May 16, 2018.

“As a current property owner in town, I am shocked at the increase here,” Pearson said. “For a $500,000 renovation, which is not extreme for historic structures, that’s a $10,000 fee. I would like to ask you to look at this in context of caring for Shepherdstown’s historic buildings. Sometimes you have to rebuild these buildings from the ground to the top.”

After discussing the Sept. 7 MARC train hearing, the Town Council approved a motion to send two letters — one to the MDOT Maryland Transit Authority and one to Governor Jim Justice — in support of continuing to fund and offer the same train schedule for the Eastern Panhandle as has been available in the past. Unless the state provides $3.5 million to the MDOT MTA, the six current trains will be reduced to two by Nov. 4.

A $1,500 funding match for a Litter Control Grant was approved by the Town Council.

“We want to get as much of this area cleaned up as we can,” Mayor Jim Auxer said, mentioning the grant funds will be used for clean-up in and around the Corporation of Shepherdstown. “This is just Shepherdstown coming together for the common good of the whole area.”

A final funding request was approved, giving $23,000 to repairs of the Market House, which is the current home of the Shepherdstown Public Library. According to local engineer Bob Keller, the library’s exterior needs renovated.

“If you look at the library, you’ll see that the paint is coming off,” Keller said, mentioning repairs will also need to be done on the the roof and parapets after the brickwork is fixed. “The problem is the water is getting behind the flashing on the roof and getting into the bricks, which are soft bricks. The flashing is failing, so when the water goes in, it goes in one side, and the paint comes off the other side.

“We had two bids for the wall repair. About 250 bricks will have to be scrapped, and all of the mortars will have to be replaced,” Keller said, mentioning the chosen contractor has historic bricks which should blend in with the building’s original bricks.

Some money will be saved, because the contractor can use bricks of any color for the project, since they will all be painted white.