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Requests for Changes to Make a Subdivision More Compatible

Part of the process of reviewing dense subdivisions in rural areas involves a Wednesday morning meeting where people ask the developer for specific changes to make the subdivision more compatible with the area and the county (Zoning Ordinance 7.6).

Requests can be major or minor. People are welcome to adapt the ideas below if they are helpful for other subdivisions. Please send new ideas to the Webmaster also. When these requests were made in the past, there were four possible outcomes, shown below:

r - resolved at the first meeting, because the developer said Yes, & this is therefore a condition the Board of Zoning Appeals will put on the project., if approved.

u - unresolved at the first meeting, because the developer said No. The Board of Zoning Appeals then calls a Thursday afternoon hearing to hear why this is a good or bad request, and they can require the developer to do it. Or they can decide the project is so incompatible with the area and county that they disapprove the project.

d - disallowed by the Zoning Administrator, Paul Raco, because he thinks the request would not promote compatibility. (His decision can be appealed to the Zoning Board, not the Planning Commission. He did not think services for the general public helped compatibility, because of the traffic they cause. He also did not think sinkhole information increased compatibility, without proof the area had above-average risk of sinkholes. Such rulings have not been appealed, so we do not know if the Zoning Board or courts would support him.)

c - changed by successful negotiation at the meeting, as described below

The outcomes below happened at the compatibility meeting for a proposed 700-home Blackford subdivision in Bardane, March 2004. Then the land was annexed into Ranson (called Tackley Farm, proposed for 1,400 homes) so county planners lost jurisdiction, and no further action was taken.



With CIS submission, provide estimates of how many more cars (and how many total cars) at buildout will use the Duffields parking lot; rt 340 at the Shenandoah; rt 9 at the Virginia Line, and interchange 12 on I-81 (at Lowe's), and estimates of average peak hour delays at these three road locations



Delay house sales until completion of 4-lane rt 9 between Ranson & I-81



Provide free carpool parking for 40 cars.



Provide or fund a commuter bus large enough for internal demand, to meet every train stopping at Duffields, until you have your own station, and at least one morning trip per day, in the busiest time of the morning, to Ranson, Charles Town, and Winchester



Provide 3 soccer fields & 3 baseball fields open to the public



Provide 3-acre playground with equipment, open to the public



Provide swimming pool, open to the public



Provide 1-mile signposted, public, nature and exercise trail



Put opaque screen of evergreens and /or berm high enough to hide the houses from the external roads



Restrict 10% of the homes so they will always sell as moderate income housing: priced less than $130,000, with 3 bedrooms, buyers under HUD or WV income limits for moderate income housing, with limits to rise with inflation.



Insure or indemnify homes within 1 mile against sinkhole damage for 10 years



Take a 2"x 2 column ad every 2 months for 2 years, rotating among local papers, telling people where they can get sinkhole insurance.



If sinkhole insurance endorsement is not available for up to $100 per year, at some time in the first 10 years, indemnify homes within 1 mile against sinkhole damage for 10 years



Put notice in deeds or covenants that area is at risk for sinkholes



Establish covenant (and fines for enforcement) restricting plantings to those that need minimal water, to minimize added water that could accelerate dissolving of the limestone



Establish covenant prohibiting or severely restricting salt on roads & private lands



Find [or look for] standards specifically developed for sewer pipes in karst areas and follow them.



Monitor sewers for leaks continuously, by comparing house usage to overall flow or by other methods.



Provide copy of Jefferson County Public Service District (PSD) approval letter for this project, pre-dating 2/10/03 addendum, and PSD minutes authorizing the letter, within 2 days of CUP approval



Provide copy of DNR letter (mentioned in item 15), pre-dating 11/02 submission, within 2 days of CUP approval



Post your applications, such as CIS, on the web when they are submitted and keep posted until final plat is approved, for public review.



Reduce the number of homes to 1 per acre






Negotiations during the meeting:



Consider standards specifically developed for sewer pipes in karst areas if a member of the public finds them



Provide information on how the County Public Service District (PSD) monitors sewer leaks



Provide copy of Jefferson County PSD approval letter for this project, pre-dating 2/10/03 addendum, within 2 days of CUP approval



Provide PSD minutes authorizing the letter, within 2 days of CUP approval



Provide information they have from DNR, pre-dating 11/02 submission, within 2 days of CUP approval

The following requests were made to the developer of Faraway Farms, East of Shepherdstown in 2005. These are the items rejected by the developer. The Board of Zoning Appeals then declined to approve the project.

The developer did not agree to the following and they are therefore unresolved. The developer did not agree to:

1.           Reduce the density to the standards in the ordinance to 1 lot for every 10 acres or 1 lot for every 15 acres;

2.           Pay for and reconstruct River Road (Route 17/1) to Trough Road (Route 31I1. ) to Engle Moler Road (Route 31) to Route 230 to meet State Department of Highway's standards;

3.           Provide a landscape buffer of 150' from each adjacent property and Trough Road (Route 31/1); around the perimeter of the Faraway Farms property; of evergreens and deciduous trees so that the homes of Faraway Farms cannot be seen from adjoining property owners. The buffer must be opaque at time of planting and during the construction phase of the project.

4.           Pay for and construct water and sewer lines from existing off site facilities that either currently exist or can be expanded to the site;

5.           Setting aside a $500,000.00 bond to provide water services to cover well failures for properties within a 1 male radius of the southeast corner of the Faraway Farms property   

6.           Confine the development to the southern 36 acres of the property and donate the balance to the property to the Civil War Preservation Trust;

7.           Eliminate approximately 50 lots on the northern portion of the property starting from the eastern line to the western line, from the park just south of the house taking in the four cul-de-sacs; establishing an undisturbed buffer and conservation easement allowing no construction equipment or public park within these areas. This area is defined on the Faraway Farm sketch plat marked as Exhibit 1;

8.           Establish and, maintain in perpetuity a 500 foot natural buffer south of Ms. Ellis' property in a natural and undisturbed buffer,.

9.           Planting evergreen trees 20 foot on center within a 500 foot natural undisturbed buffer adjacent to the Ellis property;

10.         Provide a 150 foot undisturbed buffer around the perimeter of the property excepting the areas required for ingress and egress;

11.         Prohibiting construction from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, weekends and all public, county, state and federal holidays;

12.         Follow the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan pertaining to density requirements of I lot per 10 acres;

13.         Provide a minimum of a 150 foot perimeter setback by note on the plats and in the covenants that is landscaped to ensure water flow with a full canopy of indigenous species;

14.         Install sprinkler systems within a11 new homes constructed within the Faraway Farms subdivision;

15.         Eliminate the Trough Bend bypass;

16.         Make this a gated community;

17.         Provide initial seed money for the Faraway Farms Home Owner's Association;

18.         Provide a flag person when heavy truck traffic is anticipated;

19.         Contribute at least $400,000.00 towards upgrading Trough Road to current West Virginia State Highway standards;

20.         Prohibit the sale of any homes until the new county high school is completed;

21.         Pay for additional classrooms that are necessitated by the Faraway Farms students;

22.         Certified letter from geologist or hydro geologist that during drought conditions the water supply is adequate;

23.         Fix wells by drilling new wells or provide central water if wells in the area go dry due to the drought conditions;

24.         Offer to purchase adversely affected homes before such water adequacy problems occur at fair market value;

25.         Provide a weekly clean-up crew to remove all trash and debris from Trough Road to River Road;

26.         Establish a base line of all existing wells that are located within a half a mile from the south, east and west sides and three quarter of a mile from the north side of the Faraway Farm property; and, the developer pays for water flow rates and water quality tests on a11 existing wells for household use and establish a base line of the current conditions of those wells; and, establish a $150,000 escrow account to be held for 10 years from final date of completion of all homes, to address any problems that may arise due to water reduction, flow rates, recovery or water quality that this money be used to drill new wells or fix the existing wells;

27.         Provide an on-site soil surveys to verify soils on property for agricultural valve;

28.         Place the existing historic structure and approximately 20 acres of land surrounding it on the National Historic Register, if it qualifies, and donate it to the Historical Society, the National Park Service or the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Trust if they so desire the property;

29.         Provide a vehicle wash station exiting the site;

30.         Post the property with a maximum speed limit of 5 miles per hour during the construction phase to minimize the dust and noise;

31.         Density of 1 house per 3 acres;

32.         Provide a 150' buffer utilizing existing vegetation and fill in with smaller trees around the perimeter of the property;

33.         Prohibit by covenant dog kennels exceeding 4 dogs, chickens, ducks, pigs, cows and a11 fann animals;

34.         Prohibit all construction equipment, recreational vehicles; boats and trailers unless they are housed in a garage;

35.         Widen the northern end of Trough Road to cut back the rock cliff an additional 3 feet to prevent rocks from falling onto the road;

36.         Discuss with and fund if allowed by the Department of Highways for painting dividing lines on River Road to Trough Road;

37.         Discuss with the Department of Highways and fund if allowed by them the widening of River Road,;

38.         Discuss with and fund if allowed by the Department of Highways about providing guard rails from the base of the hill and the bend in the road of River Road;

39.         Station a flag person at the intersection of Trough Road and River Road to prevent construction traffic from using the northern section of Trough Road during the construction phase of the subdivision;

40.         Prohibit construction vehicles except for service vans and pick-up trucks from River Road and Trough Road from using the southern entrance to the construction site;

41.         Limit the number of houses to 50 homes;

42.         Limit all structures to be a minimum of 20 feet from all individual lots lines;

43.         Reconfigure all lots so that the backsides of each of the houses is not visible from the road (this is the area dissected by the proposed road);

44.         Prohibit houses smaller than 2,500 square feet, excluding the garages and basements;           .

45.         Prohibit construction vehicles during school bus times of 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.;

46.         Allow public access to the farm and battlefield if the property is found to be historic;

47.         Compensate the community in the amount of $400,000.00 per year for the ecological loss of trees from the creation of impervious surfaces;

48.         Provide an estimation of the amount of land within the site to be covered with impervious surfaces;

49.         Calculate the value of environmental services lost to the community from the imposition of impervious surfaces;

50.         Limit construction to the areas with compatible soils;

51.         Require composting toilets and gray water systems for sewage/wastewater;

52.         Widen and correct Eng1e Moler Road to Route 230 and fix the intersection of the two roads;

53.         Prohibit all construction on Sunday;

54.         Prohibit construction on State and Federal holidays;

55.         Require a 100 foot setback on all land dissected by the new Trough Road bypass;

56.         Provide an earthen berm or screen to hide the direct view of the houses located in the southeastern corner from adjacent property owners;

57.         Refrain from developing the entire southeastern corner of the property;

58.         Limit the density of the southeastern corner of the property to 18 lots;

59.         Reduce by one-third the number of lots along the perimeter of the property;

60.         Limit the number of lots to a total of 70;

61.         Reduce by one-quarter the number of lots along the perimeter of the property;

62.         Cut 3 feet of cliff on River Road adjacent to Trough Road;

63.         Discuss with the Department of Highways and fund a guardrail on the southern side of River Road approximately three quarters of a mile to one mile from Shepherdstown;

64.         Apply for listing of the entire property for inclusion on the State and Federal Register;

65.         Fix the intersection regarding site distance at the intersection of Trough Road and Engle Moler Road;

66.         Fix the curve on Trough Road south; and,

67.         Subject the property to the Division of Culture and History 106 review.


Following are some of the requests made to the developers of Thorn Hill/Highland Farm, on the Shenandoah south of the Bloomery bridge in 2006. The Zoning Board of Appeals has not yet heard the case


Agreed by Developer

1.     Homeowner covenants encourage planting of native species that are drought tolerant in place of large expanses of grass or other plants that require frequent watering.

2.     Homeowner covenants prevent property owners from excessive use of salts for melting ice or snow and encourage the substitution of named non-toxic alternatives.

3.     Whoever maintains subdivision roads refrains from excessive use of salts for melting ice or snow and uses non-toxic alternatives where possible.

4.     Homeowner covenants prevent the changing oil in any machine, including automobiles, on any site in the development except on homeowner’s property and prevent discarding oil, gasoline, pesticides, or any other toxic substances on any site within subdivision.

5.     Fully restore the Mechanicstown Coloured School, as described in the conditional use permit (CUP) application.

6.     Preserve the Beeler/Isler cemetery as open green space, as described in the CUP application.

7.     Follow national and state guidelines for appropriate treatment of graves if additional graves are discovered at the Beeler/Isler cemetery.


Not Agreed by Developer

1.     Homeowner covenants prohibit turfgrass irrigation to slow limestone dissolution (sinkhole development and subsidence).

2.     Homeowner covenants prevent the use or application at any site within the subdivision of synthetic pesticides (including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and rodenticides) and fertilizers and that covenants allow the use of natural pesticides and fertilizers that are approved for organic agriculture under the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organics Standards.

3.     Set aside space in subdivision, other than flood plain, for soccer fields.

4.     Commit specific amount of funding to restoration of the Mechanicstown Coloured School.

5.     Set aside a bond for $750,000 to pay for commitments to restoration of the Mechanicstown Coloured School and for continuing site maintenance in perpetuity.

6.     Hire a qualified archeologist, before beginning construction, to investigate a 300-400’ radius around the Beeler/Isler cemetery to determine if any other graves are nearby.

7.     Work in cooperation with historians and restoration specialists to preserve the Craighill Farmstead as a county historic site.

8.     Conduct an archeological survey of the Thorn Hill property under federal and state guidelines and employing professional archeologists before construction begins, paying particular attention to the potential for finding Native American artifacts and remnants of the old bloomery.

9.     Commit to halting construction, if any historic artifacts are discovered during construction, until inspection by a historian (with credentials indicating that she/he is an expert on historical matters) and discussion of finds with Jefferson County Museum and Historic Landmarks Commission.

10.  Reduce the density of the development to 1 lot per 10 acres with a minimum lot size of 3 acres [zoning ordinance 5.7(d)1].

11.  Build the development according to the ordinance on clustering, that is, 1 lot per 15 acres with minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet [zoning ordinance 5.7(d)2] and set aside the undeveloped portion under appropriate contractual arrangements so that it will never be developed.

12.  Reduce the subdivision density to one house per 9 acres with a minimum lot size of 3 acres.

13.  Reduce the subdivision density to one house per 8 acres with a minimum lot size of 3 acres.

14.  Reduce the subdivision density to one house per 7 acres with a minimum lot size of 3 acres.