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Planning Commission moves forward with UGB plan

By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

The Shepherdstown Planning Commission has voted to move forward with a previously approved version of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), despite consideration of a recent alternative.

Though Benchmark CMR Inc. recently submitted a new proposed Urban Growth Boundary to the Planning Commission — as part of ongoing discussion in the town’s effort to draft an updated Comprehensive Plan–the commission voted to move forward with a boundary based on the town’s potential future water/sewer service.

Originally approved in July 2011, the approved plan outlines an UGB that extends from historic Shepherdstown out along the Potomac River toward Terrapin Neck, moving along Rocky Marsh Run at the Berkeley County line and down to Trough Road.

A lengthy discussion ensued at Monday’s meeting as the merit’s of each proposal were discussed.

Benchmark’s Vaughn Hansen called in to discuss his proposal, which included a boundary based on the housing developments around the town.

It extends just outside of the corporate limits, including areas along WV Route 480, and moves out toward the site of the future library.

Commission president Karene Motivans argued that the smaller proposal better fit Shepherdstown’s identity.

“It’s really just the northern half of the county,” she said about the larger UGB proposal.

“It’s not our “urban growth.”

“It just doesn’t make sense,” she said.

David Rosen, who has chaired the Comprehensive Plan committee, argued that a greater area should be included in the boundary to offer the town more control, in part because it leaves future annexation on the table for included areas.

“We’re safeguarding our area,” he said.

“We’re saying this is the area we want to influence our growth,” he said.

“It gives us a seat at the table,” he went on to say.

Commissioner Lori Robertson said she was concerned about future control of the river and commented that the larger UGB would better protect the town’s waterways.

Though Benchmark’s Vaughn Hansen said he wasn’t sure if the larger UGB proposal would be realistically approved by Jefferson County Planning staff, Rosen said he was confident that the county is willing to work with the town on the original proposal, as long as reasonable justifications are given.

The commission voted to send the proposed UGB to Town Council, with a majority vote.

The UBG will go before the Town Council at its regularly scheduled Feb. 11 meeting.