Berkeley County homeowners want action on promised sidewalks for housing developments

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Berkeley County, in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, is experiencing quite a housing boom. But some homeowners feel they are being left in the dust.

Take Helen Claire Grizzle, for example. She moved to Martinsburg from Illinois a few years ago. She has MS and was especially careful in deciding where to buy a home. The Stonebridge development in Martinsburg, built around a golfing community, was strikingly attractive. But the sidewalks to front the homes still haven’t been paved. It’s dangerous for pedestrians, says Grizzle, and unsightly with motorists parking on the gravel tracks that should be paved for sidewalks.

“Certainly a sidewalk would be a benefit to living here,” Grizzle explains. “And people that are pushing their children, in the carriages that they use, they’re out here in the street. They don’t need to be in the street.”

Dan Bennett is running for the House of Delegates in Berkeley County and has heard numerous complaints from homeowners he feels the county could address. He says there is an ordinance requiring sidewalks, but the county grants waivers to developers, keeping homeowners like Grizzle waiting. And in the end, says Bennett, the homeowners are cheated because their property values suffer.

“They just grant waivers to every single developer that wants one,” says Bennett. Heather Williams with the Berkeley County Planning Commission says these matters are generally handled by the state Department of Highways, but that the planning commission will definitely be open to hearing and considering any concerns raised by citizens. Meanwhile, Bennett is exploring a change to West Virginia code that might help deliver the action they are seeking.

And Bennett says the lack of sidewalks in housing developments is just one of numerous concerns for homeowners across the county which he hopes will be addressed by the planning commission.

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