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Commission approves new Shepherdstown Library plan

By Staff | Oct 16, 2015

The construction of a new building for the Shepherdstown Public Library was a long-time goal of library staff and supporters, and now, they are one step closer to that goal following the Jefferson County Planning Commission’s approval of the concept plan for the new library building.

The Shepherdstown Public Library is currently located at 100 E. German St. While the 2,000 square-foot building is geographically in the center of the town, a larger library, located closer to residential areas would better serve the community, according to librarian Hali Taylor.

“Our library collection is at maximum capacity and cannot be expanded within the space available. Our physical limitations make it impossible for us to grow with the population (of Shepherdstown), and our current services are compromised by lack of accessibility,” she said.

There is also only one parking space, available for a 15-minute period, at the current library location on German Street.

The new library site is located on a 4.33-acre parcel on Lowe Drive, adjacent to the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center and less than half a mile from the Colonial Hills residential subdivision, in an area currently zoned Residential Growth. A 13,500 square-foot library building is planned for the site.

Until September, there had been some discrepancy in which property uses were permitted in a Residential Growth zone. That month, the Jefferson County Commission voted to allow cultural centers, including churches, galleries and libraries, as uses in the Residential Growth Zone based on recommendations from the Planning Commission, which voted that the permitting of cultural centers near residences would be in compliance with the countywide Comprehensive Plan.

At the planning commission meeting Tuesday evening, David Simon with the planning and zoning department gave an overview of the concept plan for the library, along with the planning staff’s recommendations.

Staff recommended the applicant for the building permit would be bound to the standards for setbacks and buffers that apply to commercial uses and zones.

Additionally, the applicant would need to have a stormwater management system, and ensure the facility is handicap accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Simon said the current plan only shows an accessible entrance from the rear parking lot, and that current and planned trails or sidewalks are not ADA-compliant due to the grade of Lowe Drive.

Kristin Stolipher, the applicant, spoke on behalf of the Shepherdstown Library board. She said the concept plan for the new library will be changed to comply with the accessibility standards of the ADA to include a handicap-accessible entrance on the left side of the site.

The planning commissioners voted unanimously to approve the concept plan with staff recommendations.