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Letter to Editor Austin

By Staff | Mar 9, 2012

Mike Austin

SCC member

Last Friday’s Compatibility Assessment Meeting conducted by the Jefferson County Planning Department on the Twin Oaks Subdivision request for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to develop their “Farmer’s Market” proved to be very revealing. The protracted session, which lasted nearly five hours, afforded concerned members of the community an opportunity to identify issues that need resolution during the County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing which is now set for Apr. 19. Approximately 20 nearby property owners in addition to representatives of the Shepherdstown Community Club (SCC), owner of the adjacent Morgan’s Grove Park, identified a total of 38 issues that they believed require resolution before any CUP could be granted. Interestingly, other than the developers, there were no proponents who spoke in favor of the proposal.

The issues identified focused on eight critical areas: water and sewer facilities, collateral damage from blasting and site preparation, surface water run-off management, perimeter buffers and setbacks, traffic control and safety, lighting and noise restrictions, the potential adverse impact on Town Run and general incompatibility with the historic park and surrounding residential and recreational area.

The 40-page CUP petition and discussion shed little light on actual plans for business activities on the site other than indicating that 65,000 square feet of buildings would be constructed in three phases. The petition simply listed a number of commercial activities permitted under the “rural” zoning classification that applies to this property. It appears that the governing criteria is who is willing to sign a lease rather than some business activity that is within the scope of the “farm-friendly” pitch that the developers have been using to soften the impact of their retail plans. It is very clear that we are faced with a comparatively large shopping mall with all of its attendant baggage that will irrevocably change the residential-agricultural environment on that side of town.

The first meeting of the “Friends of Morgan’s Grove” will discuss this among other issues upstairs at the War Memorial Building starting at 7 p.m. on Mar. 15. Please join us and also, most importantly plan to attend the BZA meeting on Apr. 19.