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Neighbors Upset at Developer's Plan for Subdivision

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – People who live in the area off Edgemont Road and Memorial Park Drive in Huntington are upset with a developer’s plans to build a subdivision on the hillside near their homes.

The developer, Scott Hutchinson, said at a meeting with neighbors on Saturday that he wants to build a subdivision with 30 to 40 homes.

“It's all going to be brick homes,” Hutchinson said. “They're going to be a minimum of a half acre. Most lots are going to be an acre."

Hutchinson does not yet have a permit from the City of Huntington to go ahead with this project on the 33 acres of land he now owns. Neighbors are concerned because they have dealt with water runoff and ground slippage near their homes, and they want a guarantee that Hutchinson’s plans to remove trees from his property would not worsen the problem.

“I've lived on this hill 46 years,” Barbara Moores, a neighbor, said. “The runoff is tremendous. I have standing water in my yard. I talked to a gentleman the other day, he said he has water under his house. He can't even get under his house to do repairs and things because of the water.”

Down the road from Moores’ house, parts of North and South Edgemont Roads have experienced severe slippage. The city has closed them to traffic for the last couple of years. Moores and her neighbors are worried that, as Hutchinson strips trees to clear out his property and build roads and houses, the problem will get worse.

"Any time you take trees out or move dirt, you're going to have slippage," Moores said. “Take a look. It's never been fixed, it's been there for two or three years. And they just, they can't afford to fix it. They've come out, they've repaired, just tried to fix it temporarily, and it just keeps falling.”

At Saturday’s meeting, Rebekah McComas expressed concern about the roads that have already slipped and pointed out that Hutchinson has already marked roads and has begun to clear trees.

“I’m talking about the yellow and orange streaming flags with pink markers underneath that say ‘road’ that are on wooded slope areas,” McComas said. “I don't understand how you can mark a road without that road being currently approved.”

Scott Poston, the Building Inspector for the City of Huntington, told WSAZ.com on Saturday that he met with Hutchinson on Thursday morning and issued him a verbal cease-and-desist order. He said Hutchinson can’t go forward until he has independent engineers do a study to determine the impact of the construction on the neighbors and the ground.

“The Forestry Division has been here already and I’m allowed to do what I’ve been doing as far as the trees go,” Hutchinson said Saturday at the meeting.

“He cannot do anything – period. No kind of work at all,” Poston said, noting that this includes stripping trees and logging, which Hutchinson has already done.

Poston said that if Hutchinson does this and the project is approved, he can move forward and receive a permit at that time.

Moores said she and her neighbors are being cautious to avoid damage to their homes. She said there were plans proposed to build a similar subdivision 35 or 40 years ago, but ultimately the plans were not approved.

“We’re not against progress,” Moores said. “We just want it to be done right if they're going to do it, and I just don't see how it can be done on this hillside. It was turned down once before, and I don't see that anything's changed that's going to make it any better.”

Poston said he has only heard Hutchinson’s plans verbally and will need to see it on paper, after engineers approve the project.

Hutchinson told neighbors Saturday at the meeting that he didn’t have the answers to all of their questions.

“There's going to be engineers here, and they're going to have all the answers. I'm not going to try to answer those questions, cause I don't know,” Hutchinson said. “I'm just a developer and I'm going to try to do my very best to make you all proud that this place is here.”

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