Re: [TalkAntietam] Re: Preservation Alert
- So sad but true. Please remember that the Park had ample time to arrange the
purchase of this property. That entire side of the ridge by the road is
zoned commercial and has been for many years. It is a lot easier to zone
commerical property that is already attached to more commercial property.
The more money Jefferson County brings in the better Charelston will feel.
Preservation of Jefferson County will only become harder as our taxes in the
county increase. I believe that this county brings in the majority of the
money for the state. Why would the state want to save ground that it can
heavily tax? It all started way back when the Cliffside was purchased and
the Raft shop was set up. A few of us tried to talk to people in the park
about the historic context of the land but we were ignored for the 50th time
as usual. This area was being shelled from Louden Heights as well as School
House Ridge (site of the Fed. Building there now). It is a shame that this
area may be turned into another shopping center. The area where the flea
market is will soon be gone as well! Shame Shame Shame!
On Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 12:51 PM, Thomas Clemens
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> True enough Steve, but you know as well as I do that the NPS had the
> requirement to perform a 106 Enviromental Impact Assessment & an
> Archeological Assessment before any digging can be done. The developers
> knew that too and so that acted, purposefully to avoid the legal
> requirements. Sympathy from me? Forget it. They are pond scum. The
> people of the US are left with an archelogicaly compromised ite because
> these guys didn't want to be bothered.
> In further evidence of their shyster behavior, Dennis Frye mentioned
> that they got a state law passed that exempts them from any local zoning
> ordinances, so even the people of Jefferson County cannot exercise their
> rights. Shame on WV.
> Thomas G. Clemens D.A.
> Professor of History
> Hagerstown Community College
> >>> "Stephen" <jeffcowvplanning@... <jeffcowvplanning%40yahoo.com>>
> 08/03/10 11:58 AM >>>
> The posting fails to point out that the water and sewer lines at
> Bolivar-South were installed in easements that the owner retained when
> they sold the land to the NPS. They had every right to install the
> utility lines. The violation was that they failed to get the
> appropriate permits from NPS. I am sure the NPS would not have unduly
> held up the permit and denied the easement holder their legitimate
> property rights to use the easement (wink). The NPS is obliged, like
> any party, to abide by its contractural agreements.
> Am I thrilled with development the size of 16 walmarts there? Of course
> not. But, we need to be objective in our analysis and argument or we
> come off looking silly and hysterical. Frankly, I don't see there EVER
> being enough demand for that much development there anyway. That would
> be like building everything on Buckeystown Pike and Urbana Pike south of
> Frederick from scratch.
> Something to be concerned about? Yes. However, I think some hysteria
> is being invoked here.
- Troy, Harry, Tom et al:
Quotes from 10/06 article in Civil War News (most of the article is edited out to hit the high points, and some emphasis added by in quotes and caps).
My commentary to follow.
'Arrogance', 'Illegal' Digging Is Charged At Harpers Ferry Park
By Deborah Fitts
The three developers, who are partnering to develop four properties in and around the park, dug two parallel trenches 1,900 feet through the park's 38-acre Perry Orchard tract on historic School House Ridge.
Working quickly with heavy machinery, they started the morning of Saturday, Aug. 19, and completed the work after dark the following day. Park rangers attempted to stop them but to no avail. (STEVE: If it was a real legal issue, why didn't they arrest them? They arrest relic hunters.)
The digging was instigated by the owners of the properties, Herb Jonkers and Gene Capriotti, two of the largest developers in Jefferson County, and their business partner Lee Snyder. Snyder owns Jefferson Utilities, which dug the trenches.
Park Superintendent Don Campbell said the digging "was clearly a violation of federal law." It came as "a complete surprise," he said, ALTHOUGH THE DEVELOPERS' INTENTIONS HAD BECOME OBVIOUS IN THE PRECEDING MONTHS.
The problem, Campbell said, was that the line had to cross park property, and that could only happen if the National Park Service issued a permit. HE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE DEVELOPERS HAVE AN EASEMENT TO INSTALL UTILITY LINES. But an easement, Campbell said, is trumped by the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, which require hearings and public comment before a permit can be issued. (STEVE: I think this statement is skewed. How can the Fed confiscate a property right without compensation? If the 106 resulted in the denial of the permit, and the park aparently accepted the land from CWPT with easements in place, how should they not be compensated for losses if they were barred from proceeding?).
Campbell said THE DEVELOPERS HAD WORKED FOR MONTHS TO INSTALL THE SEWER AND WATER LINES from Sheridan, a 99-acre property they own west of School House Ridge, digging a quarter-mile to the park boundary. "It was moving so slowly, you wondered what the heck they were doing," he said. (STEVE: Duh?)
By this time the developers had already signaled their intention to ignore the federal permitting process. As early as March 30, NPS had advised them they needed a special-use permit to construct utilities inside the park boundary. Campbell said the developers applied for the permit but also "stated that they did not recognize the authority of the government to require them to go through the process."
He (Scot Faulkner) added that there was "a clear paper trail" of certified letters from NPS to Snyder "saying, `Don't even kick a stone across this property unless you get a permit from us.'" (STEVE: Unsaid: good luck getting the permit, buddy)
The Civil War Preservation Trust purchased the Perry Orchard tract in 2005 and turned it over to the park that June. THE DEVELOPERS APPARENTLY PURCHASED THE UTILITY EASEMENT IN FEBRUARY 2003 FROM THE PRIOR OWNER but Faulkner said it was peculiar that neither the Trust nor NPS discovered the easement during separate title searches. (STEVE: this one should be a no-brainer to prove or disprove).
The easement came to light in August 2005 when the developers appeared before the West Virginia Public Service Commission regarding utilities.
Mike Cassell, an attorney representing Jefferson Utilities, said he and his clients regarded the easement as "our contract with the federal government." "THE GOVERNMENT TOOK TITLE TO THAT PROPERTY SUBJECT TO THE EASEMENT," and the easement is paramount, Cassell said.
Starting the Process
ALERTED TO THE DEVELOPERS PLANS, IN JUNE AND JULY Campbell initiated a public review of the likely impact of installing the lines. Of 112 comments, 110 wanted the park to conduct a full environmental review. (STEVE: The issue was first raised in the spring, summer they began the 106, by October, six months later, no ruling which may have required many more months of review to exercise a property RIGHT)
"We were starting to wade into the permitting process," but the developers "swept all that aside," Campbell said.