Cumberland Times-News

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April 27, 2013

County approves contract to develop land near Rawlings

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners have taken another step toward getting homes and businesses sprouting on the largest remaining tract of development-friendly land in the county.

Commissioners approved a contract Thursday to develop a master plan for what was known as the Cumberland Chase Planned Development on 1,100 acres near Rawlings.

The $63,000 contract was awarded to Site Resources Inc. of Phoenix, Md.

The company will work with a local firm, Bennett Brewer & Associates, which worked on the original development.

Plans for the initial development tanked after a series of financial troubles for developers.

Any subsequent plans to bring a new developer into the picture have remained stalled because of the inability of the bank that owns the property and potential developers to get things moving.

Summit Community Bank of Moorefield, W.Va., owns the property.

The benefits to the county from getting a development going would be many, including new residents, businesses and of course, tax dollars, commissioners said.

The firm will have to designed their plan to meet several criteria.

“The awarded firm will provide future land-use designations with suggested zoning changes, prepare an estimate of the associated infrastructure costs, develop a strategy for marketing the development as an attractive and viable place for residential living and a commercial business opportunity and guide potential partnership(s) and financing strategies,” according to the proposal request for which Bennett Brewer and Associates applied.

Some infrastructure is already present on the property, but may need to be modified and expanded.

“Section A of Chase includes installed water mains, hydrants, a gravity sewer interceptor with manholes, underground electric with junction boxes, rough grading on Laurelhurst Boulevard and about a 50 percent complete stormwater management solution,” the request said.

Other sections of the property have some infrastructure, while others have none.

“Due to the somewhat complicated state of current infrastructure ... a multiphase approach to development would be appropriate to capitalize, initially, on areas where significant investment has already been made,” the RFP said.

In addition, roads to enter and leave the property remain an issue.

“A State Highway Administration entrance must be approved and constructed at the intersection of Laurelhurst Boulevard and Route 220 to gain access to the planned development. The four-lane entrance that was originally proposed for the Chase subdivision (not approved) was estimated to cost between $1 million and $3 million to complete. This cost could be reduced by simplifying the design for Laurelhurst Boulevard. This potentially could be the only major improvement needed to get started with a phase one development,” according to the RFP.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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