Clarksburg Exponent Telegram
by Jeff Toquinto, BRIDGEPORT NEWS EDITOR
BRIDGEPORT (Wednesday, January 8, 2003)
A change in the zoning classification for the Charles Pointe property along Interstate 79 could be a signal that development is about to take place.
At Monday's Bridgeport Planning Commission meeting, the panel unanimously approved the change in zoning from A-1, or Agricultural, to B-2, which is for large scale commercial business.
The change came during a public hearing where no one protested the zoning classification. There was public comment on the project, but it did not relate to the zoning issue.
On Monday, Bridgeport's City Council will have to give final approval to the zoning change.
"I think this tells us that they're ready to propose some sort of development in the Charles Pointe area," said Bridgeport Community Development Director Randy Spellman.
Whether or not that is the case is uncertain. Attorney Jim Harris and engineer Rob Stuart, both representing the Charles Pointe developers, Genesis Partners, were on hand Monday, but did not discuss any specific projects.
Jamie Corton, president of Genesis Partners, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
Spellman said the A-1 zoning classification was done to facilitate annexation. People bringing in land as agricultural do so, he said, so they're not hit with the commercial tax on their property.
"If your land is agricultural and is a meadow or just vacant land, the tax rate is lower," said Spellman. "Most people don't want to rezone their land into a higher commercial tax rate unless there are plans to do something with it."
Spellman stopped well short of saying anything about a timetable for a project at the site. It is likely, however, that the project, or projects, that will first take place will involve a conference center to be built by Bridgeport and operated by a potential hotel developer.
On Sept. 12, officials with Genesis Partners did say plans were in the works for a $10 million Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and a $15 million, 100,000 square foot high technology office building.
"Regardless of when something happens, I can say the city was happy to see them request this zoning because it indicates they're ready to do some development," said Spellman.
Charles Pointe was announced to the public in September 2000. Although earth-moving has taken place and infrastructure is being installed, no official projects have broken ground at the proposed $750 million development.