CHARLES TOWN – Hunter Hill is staying put.
That was the verdict of the Charles Town Planning Commission Monday after it rejected a proposal by the property’s current owner, William Trussell, to have the historic property — and onetime home of John Brown prosecutor Andrew Hunter — rezoned.
The planning commission voted 4-0 to have the site rezoned from residential to commercial, following a second request by Trussell, who has sought to allow the construction of a mixed-used development on the four-acre property.
The concept that was presented proposes to move the house — rebuilt on its original foundation after being torched in 1864 by Union Gen. David Hunter, Andrew’s cousin — to another spot on the same property.
The developers will have a chance to take their case to the City Council next month, although council members also voted in March to deny a rezoning petition of the property, which adjoins Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.
The concept drawings submitted by William H. Gordon Associates consultant Mark Dyck, show plans for a large commercial building in the middle of the property, as well as a strip of commercial locations along East Washington Street.
Dyck told planning commissioners that the applicants were following the correct procedures and acting in conformity with the spirit of Charles Town’s new zoning ordinance.
“The new ordinance was drafted and adopted with the spirit that it would guide new development and growth in the city of Charles Town,” he said. “This is an opportunity to support that ordinance … to support all the effort that went into drafting that ordinance.”
Dyck said there are no immediate development plans for the site, but speculated that a hotel might be well situated there.
The planning staff report, prepared by City Planner Katie See, recommended “that the Commission adhere to its original motion on March 26th which was ‘not to rezone the property to General Commercial and leave it as residential until a plan comes forward’ because this plan is only a concept at this time, as there are no immediate plans for development, which makes this plan subject to change.”
Several neighbors also voiced opposition to the rezoning request. William Warren, Lacie Mumaw and Brenda Lee Mumaw jointly submitted a letter arguing that the proposal was too vague and the site was unsuitable for large-scale commercial development. They called the petition “a sham to gain rezoning without a plan for development.”
If the rezoning was granted, they argued, it should be conditional on requiring that the Hunter Hill House remain in its current location “to continue to provide a buffer to the neighborhood.”
Commissioner Mark Roper was absent from Monday’s meeting.