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Officials blast Jefferson County planning process

August 29, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Commission member Greg Corliss and a county planning official exchanged heated words Thursday after Corliss complained that new subdivisions are being approved with no planning for the services needed to support them.

Corliss said thousands of homes have been approved for the county, but there is no planning for public services to serve the new homes.

To illustrate the point, Corliss pointed out the proposed 694-home Breckenridge East development, which raised public concern during a Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting Tuesday night.

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The planning commission postponed action on the development, partly because of concerns over whether there is enough sewer capacity for the development.

Corliss expressed his concerns during the regular county commission meeting to Paul Raco, head of Jefferson County Department of Planning and Zoning and Engineering.

Raco asked Corliss how he wants him to proceed.

Corliss, his voice becoming tense, said Raco should offer that input.

"How about you making some recommendations. You work for the commission," Corliss said.

County Commission President Jane Tabb said she was uncomfortable with the discussion, particularly since it was not on the agenda.

The planning commission is dealing with other issues, including a comprehensive plan and impact fees, and to "throw something else" in the mix is too much, Tabb said.

Commissioner Al Hooper said the planning commission has not had a lot of time for long-term planning. Hooper suggested the planning commission have a separate branch to deal with planning.

Other parts of the planning process were criticized during an afternoon work session among the commissioners.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan expressed concerns about the length of some county commission meetings, including one Tuesday night that did not end until after midnight.

Citizens were not able to speak on the proposed Breckenridge East development until about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday night and Morgan said it was not fair to make them wait that long.

Morgan suggested having the planning commission staff take over some of the subdivision review process now done by planning commission members.

"The system is totally ineffective," Morgan said.

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