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Planning Commission gets green light to hire director

February 22, 2002

Planning Commission gets green light to hire director



By SARAH MULLIN
martinsburg@herald-mail.com


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Planning Commission has a budget surplus of $97,000, so the Berkeley County Commission gave permission to begin the process of hiring a director.

The Planning Commission director will oversee the planning commission staff, and assist in the update of the county's comprehensive plan.

Rather than hire an outside firm to revise the comprehensive plan, which contains regulations regarding water, sewer, road, land use, and industrial and historic issues, the planning director should be able to update it themselves, Commissioner Robert Burkhart said.

The planning commission requested $40,000 in their 2002-2003 budget to hire a consultant, who will update the 10-year-old comprehensive plan. Last year they requested $15,000.

"You get so many demands from day-to-day work you can not do long-term work, but a qualified planner could do it if they carve out time each day," County Administrator Deborah Hammond said. She was a former planning commission director.

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She said there is a tremendous amount of public input involved in a comprehensive plan including a series of public meetings.

They "are held all over the county to see what people envision the future of Berkeley County to be," she said.

County Attorney Norwood Bentley III said if the director kept on top of the plan, that shouldn't be a problem. Comprehensive plans should be updated every five years, he said.

The planning commission will pay the director a salary of $45,000 with about $12,000 in benefits. The position will be advertised and interviews will be conducted by the planning commission.

A public meeting will be held on March 7 at 8 p.m. regarding fee increases for various planning commission services.

If approved, the additional revenue will go toward the hiring of a planning commission engineer.

According to planning commission documents, the additional revenue from the proposed fee increases obtained from the estimated activity for the 2002-2003 fiscal year will be $74,900.

A fee of $100 will be charged for final plat extensions, plan changes, bond reductions after the first three, bond extensions after the first one, and preliminary plat extension after the first and second year extensions, according to the documents.

There are currently no fees for those services.

The preliminary plat review will increase from $145 to $190, and the LDU will increase from $300 to $500, according to the documents.

"We get a large number of requests that take a lot of time and there are no fees," said Harry Carter, planning commission administrator.

This engineer position is contingent on the approval of the fee increases by the public and the county commission, he said.

It is unclear where the planning commission engineer will be located.

The allotted salary for the position is $50,000 with an additional $12,000 for benefits.

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