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Ordinances would change Charleston traffic patterns

Charleston's Municipal Planning Commission approved two ordinances that will modify traffic patterns in two areas of the city.

One would cede part of the city's right-of-way on 33rd Street in Kanawha City to Charleston Area Medical Center so the hospital can construct a new parking lot for employees.

The proposed lot will take up the block between 33rd and 34th streets, said Joyce Ofsa, an attorney representing CAMC. The project will involve the demolition of three small buildings in that block, she said.

The lot will be bound to the north by an alley and to the south by MacCorkle Avenue.

The new lot will be surrounded by green space on all sides, which could include trees or shrubbery. Access to the lot will be only from 34th Street.

Ofsa said the city will still have a large right-of-way along 33rd Street, and said that parcel was given to the city when CAMC moved 33rd Street to expand its Memorial Hospital campus.

Planning Director Dan Vriendt said the city would be left with a 60-foot right of way if CAMC's plan becomes reality. He said giving part of it -- about 7,750 square feet -- to CAMC would not adversely affect the public.

Ofsa said CAMC is prepared to compensate the city for the $12,400 appraised value of the land, should the project become reality. She said numerous easements for utilities and the city factor into the appraised value.

"The fact that (the easements) exist affects the value of this property," she said.

Ofsa also said the parking lot's construction may improve safety on MacCorkle Avenue, as currently, drivers can pull off of, and back into, that thoroughfare, which has a speed limit of 40 mph.

"We think it's a very good project," she said. "We think it'll all make a great improvement."

No one spoke against the proposal.

The commission unanimously approved the ordinance, which must pass city council's planning and finance committees before final approval by council.

The second bill addressed by the commission would abandon a long section of Twilight Drive and a portion of Denton Street in the city.

Vriendt said the request won't affect any residents, as both streets dead end and the sections to be closed are completely surrounded by property owned by the Central West Virginia Regional Airport Authority and the Northgate Business Park.

"There's no need now for this road to go all the way out there," he said. "It serves no purpose."

In part, the area that will see the road closures is part of the airport's project to remove part of the hilltop in the area. That project will allow the airport to meet newer FAA takeoff height guidelines.

Like the first ordinance, the commission unanimously approved the second bill, with no one speaking against. It, too, will need to pass council's planning and finance committees before final approval by council.

Finally, the commission also approved the naming of a street off Connell Road as "Patriot Way." The street will serve the new Connell Point subdivision, developer J.D. Stricklen said.

Stricklen is also a member of the planning commission, but abstained from Wednesday's votes. He said the street is so named for the mascot of George Washington High School, which isn't far from the new subdivision.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.


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