CHARLES TOWN — A Jefferson County Circuit Court today dissolved an emergency injunction it leveled late last week against the developer that wants to build a retail drug store in downtown Charles Town.
Judge David H. Sanders ruled that petitioners Betsy Wells and Donald Rohel had no special standing as residents in arguing against the planned demolition of seven buildings to make way for the construction of a 14,000-square-foot CVS store at the 300 block of West Washington Street.
Sanders had OKed an emergency injunction against the company, its development group, the Rebkee Company and the Charles Town Landmarks Commission last week after Rohel and Wells filed a complaint arguing tearing down the buildings would be a mistake that would undermine the historic character of the town’s historic district.
In reaching his conclusion, Sanders sided with CVS attorney Kenneth Barton, who said Rohel and Wells had no interests at stake in the project.
“If they don’t have standing they shouldn’t have filed in the first place,” Barton said. “They’re not an aggrieved party.”
The $5 million project would mean the closing of two other area CVS stores, one of them in Ranson.
The complaint also alleged the Landmarks Commission failed to heed the requirements of the town’s historic overlay district, which outlines certain circumstances under which historic buildings can be disposed of, and also maintained that landmarks member Mark Reinhart acted improperly in voting to approve the demolition of the buildings.
The commission voted to allow the buildings to be torn down on a 3-1 vote at its November meeting.
The complaint maintained that Reinhart, who owns two properties that would abut the new development, stands to benefit from it.
Reinhart, in an interview earlier this week, dismissed the allegation as baseless.
Petitioners’ attorney Greg Bailey said Sanders’ ruling did not adequately address those aspects of the complaint — Reinhart’s participation in the vote and the alleged mishandling of the matter by landmarks commissioners.
“The judge never undertook to make a ruling on whether the HLC followed the guidelines and also made no ruling on whether the HLC commissioner improperly participated,” Bailey said.
Barton argued landmarks commissioners have discretion to authorize the demolition of the buildings.
In his opening remarks against the injunction, Barton argued the petitioners’ complaint did not abide by notification procedure, and told Sanders that Rohel and Wells waited too long to file their complaint.
In his ruling, Sanders acknowledged both points.
Bailey said the certificate issued by the landmarks commission was not filed until January, despite being voted on in November.
The ruling did manage to avoid a request raised by the attorney for property owner Clarence Haymaker, who asked that a bond be posted in the event the injunction was upheld.
Attorney Richard Gay said the injunction possibly threatened the $1.35 sale of the property, and asked the court to authorize as much as a $3 million bond to Haymaker, who, he said, stood to lose $8,500 a month in rental income on the properties.
Gay said the petitioners’ argument was a misreading of the zoning ordinance.