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Ad Draws Response

By Staff | Apr 20, 2012

Imagine our surprise when we opened our copies of last week’s Chronicle (Friday, April 13), to see in bold poster-size print (and without any attribution), a half-page headline: “YES to safe neighborhoods [but] NO to 8 Foot Security Fencing at Morgan’s Grove Park.” This proclamation names us and states that Shepherdstown Community Club is requesting the fence as if a fence somehow would create an unsafe neighborhood. We need to respond to and correct his misleading “advertisement” which (we believe) was placed and paid for by Twin Oaks Development and its owner Peter Corum.

Indeed, the Shepherdstown Community Club (SCC) does want a barrier to separate Mr. Corum’s proposed 65,000 square foot commercial retail development from Morgan’s Grove Park. As the park’s custodian, we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that Morgan’s Grove Park remains the most used park in Jefferson County, providing a respite and retreat from commercial and business activities for families, along with a safe and secure place for children to play. Because Mr. Corum’s proposed uses have the potential to adversely affect the community’s use and enjoyment of our park and interfere with the benefits it provides, it is our responsibility to point that out to the community and to county officials.

Now for the facts: Mr. Corum promises to create “an agricultural based economic empowerment zone” and professes that the goal of Twin Oaks Development is to develop “an agricultural campus for building an environmentally and economically sustainable community.” Putting aside the impenetrability of these vague statements, at meetings before the Zoning staff and last week at the Shepherdstown Town Council (as reported in the Chronicle), Mr. Corum admitted that the particular enterprises that will be housed and operating on his land (if the CUP is granted) will be “market responsive” in other words, he doesn’t know. Because Mr. Corum does not know who or what will lease, he wants permission to house almost any business as long as that business’ proprietor is wiling to sign a lease. Thus, he has asked for “Principal Permitted Uses” for myriad retail businesses including: restaurant, bakery, butcher shop, food markets, antique shops, hardware store, a bank, accounting and insurance firms, medical, dental and optical offices, other unspecified types of professional-business offices, home improvement services and products, health activities facility, pool, entertainment-sports facility, and conference-meeting-event space. In the event any activity is missing, he adds a final catch-all category of “accessory uses” under the General Merchandise (Retail) category. One or more of the business activities listed will dispense alcohol. In addition, these activities will require parking for 600-800 cars and delivery trucks.

In addition to omitting all of these facts from his Chronicle “ad” Mr. Corum chose not to reveal his identity as the self-interested owner of Twin Oaks Development.

If Mr. Corum and his development company are given license to develop a 65,000 square foot “strip mall” next to Morgan’s Grove Park, there needs to be some separation between the two. The activities at the park are wholly incompatible with Mr. Corum’s high density/high traffic development plans and, we submit, a barrier such as a fence is required to protect park users, particularly children.

Tom Huddleston

Austin Porter

Mike Austin