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Chester RV park application denied

The Sunset Development property on Ninth Avenue and Collins Memorial Drive, where developer Robert Reed has been attempting to construct an RV park. (Photo by Julie Riedel)

CHESTER, W.Va. — Council denied Sunset Development’s application for an RV park in a special meeting Tuesday.

“The city of Chester finds that it must follow the 2018 court issue by Judge (James) Mazzone,” said Mayor Ken Morris.

At the December meeting, council determined an ordinance requires a permit for the construction of an RV park. Sunset Development submitted an application for council to review before the January meeting, but not in time to place the item on the agenda. Approximately 30 people attended the special session to hear the council’s vote, which unanimous.

Solicitor Michael Adams did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, but he advised Morris. Robert Reed, the owner of Sunset Development also did not attend.

“I’m a concerned for the community. We live in the area, and I’ve been a realtor for 35 years and I know what that would do to the property values, and safety is our biggest concern,” said Chester resident Ed Schmidt. “And this park violates the ordinance, and the law. We have someone who doesn’t want to obey the law, and the number of people came tonight because we are all concerned.”

In 2018 Sunset Development started to develop the RV park in Chester. The city had passed an ordinance in 2002 prohibiting the development of trailer parks in the city. In June of 2018, Judge Mazzone ruled the ordnance was valid and the city must enforce its ordinances.

In March of 2019, Reed filed another lawsuit appealing the previous ruling. The case was dismissed on Nov. 13 by Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Jason Cuomo. Reed began working on the park after the November dismissal.

To uphold Mazzone’s ruling, Police Chief Todd Murray served Reed with a cease and desist letter at the end of December, forcing Reed to stop developing the park.

The Chester water department did install a water tap to the property. Reed had submitted a water tap application. Morris explained the Public Service Commission (PSC) requires water is installed to a property if the owner requests service. Morris said it is not worth bringing the water department into a lawsuit for violating PSC regulations.

Council voted the park violated the ordinance and was not allowed within the city. The ordinance also required a minimum of five acres of land. According to tax maps in the county assessor’s office the two parcels owned by Sunset Development total approximately 1.8 acres.

“He’s building or attempting to put in an RV park in my backyard, and hopefully this stops it. I’m all for progress, but not progress that depletes the value of my house,” said Chester resident Lisa Straght.

State health code also requires each campsite be 1,200 square feet, and the per acre density of a campground not exceed 25 sites.

jriedel@reviewonline.com

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