Many local projects stalled by economy
A number of development projects in Morgan County have been brought to a standstill by the national economic woes.
One sign of the economic climate is that only 25 building permits for new homes were issued by the Morgan County Planning Office in 2010. This compares to 236 issued in 2005.
The largest project now under way in Morgan County is the ongoing construction of Valley Health’s new War Memorial Hospital on Fairview Drive outside Berkeley Springs.
The new hospital is scheduled to be completed by April 2012.
Morgan County Commission President Stacy Dugan, a hospital employee, said the staff hopes to start moving into the new facility next January.
Villages at Coolfont
No work is under way at the much-debated 1,200-home development proposed by Carl M. Freeman Companies for the old Coolfont Recreation property.
“The project is on hold and will remain on hold until the company sees a sustained upturn in the economy and the purchase of second homes,” said Freeman General Manager Bob Marggraf.
The company is keeping all of its permits and entitlements, as well as its “community enhancement district” designation up to date, Marggraf said.
No NFL Football Camp
After all the hoopla surrounding developer Eric Carper’s announcement last spring that he planned to build a National Football League football camp at Tri-Lake Park, the project never really got started.
Carper has since sold his interest in Tri-Lake Park.
Forget Ten, Inc.
The plug has finally been pulled on the plans of Ten, Inc. to start a high-tech industry in the Morgan County Business Park.
The Japanese company bought a lot in the industrial park in the late 1990s with a grand kickoff ceremony attended by Governor Cecil Underwood and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, but nothing ever came of it.
Now, the Morgan County Economic Development Authority is buying back the lot for $7,611 in unpaid taxes.
Susan DeLyon, who had planned to build a shopping center at the Business Park, has put the project on hold until the economic outlook improves, reported County Planner Alma Gorse.
Sovereign Homes of Winchester, Va. planned to build a 400-home townhouse community along U.S. 522 near the Virginia line.
Gorse said the builder has received phased preliminary plat approval from the Planning Commission, but needs to submit a detailed engineering preliminary plat drawing by May.
Kesecker Realty completed sections one and two of Kesecker Knoll, a development located off of Johnsons Mill Road, but only one house is currently under construction there.
Four more sections are planned and a phased preliminary plat (a conceptual drawing) has been approved by the planning commission. A detailed engineering preliminary plat drawing is due by next January, Gorse said.
“Lots are not selling. In December. for example, there were only five
residential home lots sold in Morgan County,” said Phil Kesecker, the development’s owner.
Also stalled by the economy are the Shadow Valley Forest project, an upscale large home development using green technology on Spriggs Road, and the Sleepy Creek Forest rural home development project near Stotler’s Crossroads.
Both subdivisions are owned by MDG Companies, which developed Cacapon East and Cacapon South in southern Morgan County Meantime, MDG is selling 12 partially developed lots at Oakland Overlook, located at the intersection of U.S. 522 and Oakland Road.
The company had planned to build what it called “workforce housing” on the 12 half-acre lots, but has been unable to find a builder to partner with. The lots have sewer connections installed.
“At what it costs to develop these properties and at what you can get for the properties once developed, at this point, it just isn’t economically feasible,” said Justin Cowles, MDG Director of Project Development.
Cell and EMS towers
It appears, however, that work on communications towers is continuing through the recession.
Morgan Couny Grant Assistant Carol York said the county has been awarded a grant for $576,000 to install two communications towers in the western part of the county for 911 and Emergency Medical Services.
Bill Clark, director of the Economic Development Authority, said one tower site will be on Purslane Mountain and he is in the process of finding a second site.
He hopes cell companies will want to locate on the towers in the future to help allay costs.
Two companies are building cell towers locally this year, Clark said.
Network Building & Consultants is constructing a tower at Coolfont for Verizon while Liberty Towers is putting one up near Paw Paw.