CHARLESTON – West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals will stick by an April 17 decision allowing construction of 152 homes on Far Away Farm in Jefferson County.

On June 11, all five Justices denied a petition to rehear the case.

They heard it in March, and in April all five ordered the county planning and zoning commission to issue a conditional permit for the development.

Far Away Farm complied with every requirement of the county zoning ordinance and is entitled to the permit, the Justices agreed.

The county board of zoning appeals rejected the development, declaring it too dense for compatibility with the neighborhood and finding the roads inadequate to deal with it.

Circuit Judge Thomas Steptoe affirmed the decision.

The Justices reversed him. Their unsigned opinion stated that zoning ordinances must be interpreted to balance individual property rights with community needs.

"Such ordinances can only be effective if they are applied in an even-handed manner with the utmost adherence to the procedural rights of all parties," they wrote.

At a compatibility assessment meeting that lasted seven hours, they wrote, critics made 106 demands on Far Away Farm owners Alice and Dwayne Masemer.

One person demanded $400,000 annual compensation to the community for loss of trees, they wrote, and one demanded a $500,000 bond to provide water as wells failed.

Critics claimed the property held historical significance because a Civil War battle occurred there, but according to the Justices it happened a mile away.

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