Housing and schools stretched to accommodate growth in Berkeley County

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Berkeley County, West Virginia is booming. That comes with a demand for more housing.

The growth is unmistakable, and the traffic on Interstate 81 certainly reflects that. During the pandemic this past year, when many in the Baltimore-Washington area have been confined to their homes, West Virginia’s eastern panhandle has been a desirable destination for relocating.

“We are the fastest growing county with the State of West Virginia,” said Dan Dulya, a Berkeley County councilmember. “Within the next five years we’ll probably be the most populous county in the State of West Virginia.”

Berkeley County schools are already projecting as much as a 16 percent enrollment increase over the next decade for grades K-12.

“Since our last census, I think we’ve grown 17 percent, so, you know, building is going to continue to happen,” said Dulyea. “I don’t know how with the price of materials, but it is going to continue to happen.”

So where are all these people going to live? A new Tuscarora housing tract is planned for 74-plus acres just off Interstate exit 13. Some locals are opposed to the development but a county planning commission hearing next month will weigh the pros and cons.

“It’s a good thing to get the public’s opinion on it and try to figure out whether that area should be changed,” said Dulyea.

The target market for the housing development is retirees, people the architect refers to as “empty nesters.” County council will review the zoning ordinance at its meeting on June 7. Meanwhile, to accommodate all this growth, Berkeley County schools says it will need an additional 100,000 square feet of classroom space.

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