Residents and property owners near the site of a proposed Dollar General store in southern Morgan County, West Virginia have filed a lawsuit against the Morgan County Planning Commission.
At a February 17, 2015 meeting, the Planning Commission gave the green light to preliminary plans to put a Dollar General store at the corner of Oakland Road and US 522 ten miles south of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
The lawsuit was filed this morning at the Morgan County Courthouse in Berkeley Springs. (See lawsuit here.)
The lawsuit alleges that in granting its approval to the developer at that meeting on February 17, the Planning Commission violated its own subdivision rules and “failed to adequately establish a proper record of the information it considered when reaching its decision.”
“The failure of the Commission to follow its own rules or to establish an appropriate record for its actions represents an overreach of authority by the Commission and thus violates the due process clauses of the United States Constitution and the West Virginia Constitution,” the lawsuit alleges. “Accordingly, Petitioners request that this Court grant a Writ of Certiorari to hear this case and also grant an accompanying Writ of Mandamus ordering the Commission to follow the applicable rules of the Subdivision Ordinance.”
The plaintiffs are all residents or property owners near the proposed site on Oakland Road and US 522.
They are Robert Donadieu and Rita Donadieu, George Nelson Sparks and Patience Sparks, Martha Ann MacNamara and Donna Fallin.
The residents are being represented by Larry Schultz of Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
“The Planning Commission is not following its own rules,” Schultz said. “The Subdivision Ordinance imposes a duty on the developer to provide certain specific information in support of its subdivision application. When the Planning Commission acted on the application without that information, it violated the public’s and petitioners’ rights. The Planning Commission wrote these rules. It is required to follow them just like any citizen. This lawsuit is about making the government follow its own rules.”
Schultz said that the failure of the Commission to require the developer to provide the state road entrance permits as required by the Subdivision Ordinance was “particularly troublesome given the serious concerns expressed by many residents over the dangers of entering and exiting Route 522.”
“Morgan County already has two Dollar General stores and a Family Dollar store,” said Rita Donadieu. “We don’t need another dollar store in Morgan County. We live in a rural residential area of the county. We’re concerned about safety problems, with vehicles flying down a two lane highway coming upon other vehicles braking to turn into a Dollar General on Oakland Road. And we’re concerned about the Dollar General changing the rural nature of our community.”