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Hearings set for county growth plan

January 21, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County land planners have set up a series of meetings to give county residents a chance to ask questions and provide input on a new growth plan for the county.

The first public meeting on the comprehensive plan will be held tonight in the circuit court room at the Jefferson County Courthouse at the intersection of George and Washington streets in Charles Town.

Today's meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will give county residents a chance to ask Jefferson County Planning Commission members questions about the comprehensive plan, commission President Arnold W. Dailey Jr. said.

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Dailey said the planning commission wanted to hold the session because it has been criticized in the past for not giving the public an opportunity to ask questions regarding land-use matters.

In most situations involving the planning commission, the public has been able to give input on issues but commission members do not respond, Dailey said.

Following tonight's meeting, public hearings on the comprehensive plan will be held on Jan. 30 and Feb. 8, Dailey said.

During those meetings, the public will be able to give input on the proposed plan, Dailey said.

Those hearings also will be held in the Jefferson County Courthouse.

A comprehensive plan gives a broad view of how a county should grow. Specifics of the plan are later put into place through changes in the county's land use laws.

The new comprehensive plan being considered for Jefferson County proposes to concentrate most development around the Charles Town and Ranson areas.

One proposal is the establishment of a a "townscape" area around Charles Town and Ranson, allowing a mixture of high density residential uses along with small-scale service businesses, home occupations and community facilities.

After accepting input on the plan through the public hearings, the planning commission will consider making changes to the plan based on comments received, according to Stephen R. Bockmiller, the county's chief planner.

Any changes made to the plan as a result of public comments would likely be completed by mid-February and the plan should be ready to send to the Jefferson County Commissioners by late March or early April, Bockmiller has said.

The commissioners have to approve any new comprehensive plan before it can be implemented, Bockmiller said.

Dailey said he was not sure of the public's reaction to the plan. Other than a few questions about the plan that have been submitted to the planning commission, there has not been a lot of public inquiry about the proposal, Dailey said.

The proposed plan is a lengthy document touching on many issues regarding growth.

  • Some other highlights call for:

  • Soliciting help from the West Virginia Division of Highways to create a transportation management plan that includes mapped alignments of new roads and taking into consideration other forms of transportation. The plan also suggests development of a bypass around the western edge of Charles Town, a proposal that some residents say is needed to replace difficult-to-travel roads like W.Va. 51.

  • Encouraging extension of MARC commuter train service into the county, with stops in Ranson and the new Huntfield development.

  • Creating incentives to encourage new businesses to redevelop abandoned or underused properties in municipalities before building on undeveloped land outside those areas.

  • Continuing to attract new industrial and commercial development to diversify its economy and avoid possible long-term problems to being a bedroom community.

  • Exploring all available avenues to acquire park land that is usable for recreational activities.





Public Meeting


What: Meeting gives residents the chance to learn more about and give input into Jefferson County's proposed growth plan.

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Jefferson County Courthouse, corner of George and Washington streets, Charles Town.

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