Board urges denial of zoning request
The Shepherdstown Planning Commission unanimously voted to make a recommendation to the Jefferson County Commission to deny a request made rezone property adjacent to Morgan’s Grove Park.
With more than 30 individuals in attendance, the planning commission took public comments regarding the request to rezone 13.69 acres of land outside Morgan’s Grove Park from “rural” to “commercial-industrial.”
The county commission, which has delayed a decision on the property, will take up the request at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 8.
According to the request submitted by property owner Peter Corum, once rezoned, the property will be used for a “commercial-retail” space made up of one or more structures designed to support local agribusinesses.
Mike Austin, president of the Shepherdstown Community Club, formerly the Men’s Club, which owns Morgan’s Grove park, spoke at Monday evening’s meeting about what he sees as a failure in the county zoning process thus far.
“We only ask… for a full, open discussion before a final decision is made.”
John Amos, vice president of the community club and resident of Morgan’s Grove Road, said that he’s most concerned about the impact of a decision to rezone on local residents.
“As a residential homeowner, this spot zoning concerns me. Actually it scares the hell out of me,” he said.
He also said he thinks a potential rezoning will jeopardize “residential security” for citizens all over Jefferson County.
“This has ramifications for every homeowner in the county,” he said.
Bill Lewandowski, a former member of the Jefferson County Planning Commission, warned against this type of zoning.
He said that “reams and reams” of evidence exist regarding the negative impact commercial zoning would have on the property in question, due mainly to Town Run and its head waters, which run through the property.
“Once they turn around and rezone this, you’re stuck,” he said.
David Wright, who drew the original master plan for Morgan’s Grove Park, also expressed concern for the town’s water supply.
He said that a additional infrastructure would be required to maintain the water’s drinkability if Corum’s plans included considerable industrial work.
Though the Shepherdstown Planning Commission has no legal authority in the matter, Lewandowski said he believes it’s within the planning commission’s legal purview to write a letter of recommendation to the county commission.
Joe Springer is resident of a community near the site and attended the county planning commission meeting regarding the request two weeks ago.
Springer said he thinks its “imperative” for the town planning commission to take a stand and oppose the request on behalf of the residents of Shepherdstown.
“Once you lose this piece or property, you lose forever what Morgan’s Grove Park is,” he said.
After extended discussion amongst the attendees and the board, the planning commission voted to make a recommendation to the county commission to deny the request.
The members of the planning commission also encouraged residents to write letters to the county commission to express specific concerns.
Letters addressed to the county commission will be included with an official letter from the Shepherdstown Planning Commission.
Planning Commission President Josh Stella asked that letters be dropped off at Town Hall by close of business Monday, Nov. 28.
– Tricia Fulks contributed to this report.