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Panhandle lawmakers disagree on zoning issue

September 08, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Del. John Doyle is taking issue with Sen. John Unger's suggestion that zoning be eliminated as one of the requirements for impact fees.

Counties have the ability to impose impact fees to help pay for additional services needed because of growth, but there have been complaints that the state requirements to implement the fees are so complex that no county has taken advantage of them.

If no county has been able to meet the requirements under the 10-year-old Local Powers Act, then something must be wrong, Unger, D-Berkeley, said Monday.

Unger said be believes that the requirement in the Local Powers Act that counties must enact zoning to get impact fees should be eliminated.

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Doyle said it is possible that portions of the Local Powers Act could be "tweaked," but major requirements such as zoning cannot be removed.

Requirements such as zoning are based on court cases in other states and the first developer who is charged impact fees without zoning will challenge it in the courts, Doyle, D-Jefferson, said Wednesday.

"I seriously question that logic," Doyle said.

Doyle has suggested that Berkeley County adopt zoning and Jefferson County adopt building codes, another requirement for impact fees, to get the impact fee process started.

Berkeley County voters have resoundingly defeated efforts to pass zoning and Unger said he does not believe there is any chance to pass it there.

Unger said Wednesday he does not want to get into an argument over whether zoning should be eliminated as part of the requirement for impact fees.

Unger said he simply wants to review the Local Powers Act to determine if there are "unnecessary hoops" that can be eliminated to help counties impose impact fees.

Unger said it is important that counties be given the tools necessary to handle growth issues in their communities.

"We have to be in control of our own destiny up here," Unger said.

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