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North Hills housing gets green light

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam County can build another 23 homes on a North Charleston hilltop after a city agency approved its final subdivision plan on Wednesday.

Members of the Municipal Planning Commission unanimously OK'd the final plat plan for the North Hills Subdivision Street B, which calls for two-dozen modest homes on equally modest lots along an extension of North Hills Drive.

Habitat volunteers already built the first home during the last month in what they call a blitz build, and Director Shawn Means expects to build the rest during the next few years.

Also Wednesday, planning commissioners approved the rezoning of a small lot adjacent to the One Stop in Kanawha City and final plat plans for two other subdivisions -- one in Northgate Business Park, the other in the Sherwood Forest.

Michael Graney of One Stop said he wants to buy the home at 309 50th St., tear it down and add the property to the gas station site at the corner of MacCorkle Avenue and 50th Street. To do that, he needs the property rezoned from R-4 (single-family residential) to C-8 (village commercial) like the rest of the gas station.

Graney said he will to move a fence in the rear to provide privacy for homes across the alley. One neighbor asked Graney to build a block wall with a fence on top to keep car lights from shining into his home at night.

George Patterson, lawyer for Northgate developer John Wellford's Corotoman Inc., said nearly everything is in place to create a 4.5-acre tract on a flattened hilltop for the new home of Energy Corp. of America.

The 60,000-square-foot building will allow ECA to double its staff to about 220, with on-site parking, he said. "Associated Architects has designed the building, Jarrett Construction has agreed to build it."

The ECA plan was first announced in March. The building will replace the company's current eastern regional headquarters on 56th Street in Kanawha City, behind the state Department of Environmental Protection offices.

Denver-based ECA is a privately held energy company founded about 20 years ago by John Mork, the president and CEO. He previously founded Eastern American Energy Corp., an oil and natural gas exploration and production company that had headquarters in Charleston.

Though it has operations worldwide, ECA is a leading producer in the Appalachian Basin and was a pioneer in developing the Marcellus Shale formation as early as the late 1970s.

One unresolved issue for the new headquarters is a sewer line, Patterson said. "An alternate main-line extension agreement has been filed with the Public Service Commission for approval. We're asking this to be approved, subject to that approval."

Under such agreements, developers install their own sewer lines under a plan approved by the PSC and the Charleston Sanitary Board.

Finally, builder J.D. Strickland, a non-voting member of the commission, told the group he had finished installing all utilities and other infrastructure for adding six lots on Yorkshire Drive off Nottingham Road since getting his preliminary plan approved in December.

Reach Jim Balow at balow@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5102.


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