Survey shows positive view of Bath annexation

by Trish Rudder

Town of Bath Planning Commission president Rebecca MacLeod told the Bath council members on March 5 that the survey has shown favorable views of expanding Bath boundaries. The survey was taken during the U.S. 522 Berkeley Springs bypass workshop meeting on February 28.

It showed 55 % of the 75 people that took the survey were for adjusting the town boundaries to better address flooding and demand for services like police, water and sewer for new businesses and subdivisions, 36 % were against it and 9 % did not answer or had no opinion.

According to the 2017 Town of Bath Comprehensive Plan, the population in the town is 673. MacLeod said on Monday the Berkeley Springs community has a population of about 2,500 and includes the neighborhoods of Jimstown, North Berkeley, Berryville and others, according to the Morgan County Census Tract 9708 listed in the Plan.

Of those who participated in the survey, 37 said they live near the proposed four-lane bypass, 15 live in the Town of Bath, 24 live in the Berkeley Springs community and 22 live elsewhere Morgan County. Some people checked more than one, MacLeod said.

She said she handed out 91 surveys during the bypass meeting. Over a three-hour period, more than 200 people attended the workshop meeting held in the high school cafeteria.

The survey question about the bypass showed people were mostly concerned about noise (57%) and loss of business (53%) that the bypass around Berkeley Springs would bring. Other concerns were flooding, the view and sprawl at 40%, sediment and dust and “other concerns” were at 36%, and 31% were concerned about the bypass affecting the water supply.

In the “other concerns,” category, safety was the concern of 6 people; three people cited the effect on tourism and loss of customers; three people were concerned about losing their house, property or driveway and three were concerned with Sugar Hollow Road. Two people had concerns about the increased runoff, two were concerned with the traffic speed, and two were concerned with at-grade crossings. One person was concerned with the effect on the flood-control dams, one concern was zoning, taxes and devalued property, one concern was the effect on other roads, and one concern was with pedestrian and bike lanes.

The Annexation Committee for the Town of Bath, made up of MacLeod, Town Recorder Susan Webster and Councilman Chris Chapman “decided to start with a survey to get a sense of how people feel so we could get a sense of what the next step is,” MacLeod said on Monday.