Property owners and a lawyer who are outraged over a plan by the city of Lewisburg to transform a home into a new police station in a residential subdivision spoke out against the proposed project Tuesday night.

City officials in September filed a petition in circuit court to seize the home, owned by Lewisburg lawyer Robert Jacobson, by eminent domain and the issue is still pending before the court. Jacobson is not contesting the eminent domain petition.

The home is located on the corner of Preston Boulevard and North Court Street and is directly across from the county’s magistrate offices.

Joan Reed, who has lived next door to the Jacobson home for eight years, asked council members to rethink their plan.

“When I first received the papers from the city that told me about what was happening, I really was a little flummoxed about the situation,” Reed said. “First of all, I don’t know how you are going to turn that house into a police station.”

Reed questioned whether city council had explored all its options and said it was “a very dangerous precedent to set in this community.”

Reed implored council to come at the Jacobson home, which she described as “smack dab in the front of my house.”

“This is a quiet little neighborhood and it’s right in Lewisburg,” Reed said. “(Your plan) undermines everything that Lewisburg is about.”

Lewisburg lawyer Robert Richardson, who has been retained by homeowner Rodney Wickline, told council members they were circumventing their own zoning ordinances by putting a police station in a residential area.

“I am concerned with how this sets an example for the community by not compiling with their own laws,” Richardson said.

“City code specifically provides that a police station cannot be located in a residential area and you can’t put a police station in the corner of Preston Boulevard and Court Street without violating your own ordinances. To me, it’s the hallmark of the rule of law that the people in charge obey the laws that they enact.”

Richardson said the city has ignored other options for locating the police station, such as a building near the courthouse and the State Police barracks on U.S. 219. State Police are currently moving to a new home located on the campus of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We are simply asking the city council to abandon this notion of putting a police station in a residential area where it doesn’t fit and it won’t fit,” Richardson said.

Another couple who owns a home near the Jacobson house also attended the council meeting and expressed opposition to the plan.

Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester did not respond to Reed or Richardson’s comments. Manchester later said he could not respond because of the “pending litigation.”

— E-mail: cgiggenbach@register-herald.com

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