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Jefferson commissioners plan to discuss growth with governor

February 08, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Annexations of land by cities and the challenges they create in planning for growth in counties are among the issues members of the Jefferson County Commission plan to discuss with West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin on Friday.

The commissioners met in a workshop session Monday afternoon to determine what issues they would like to discuss with the governor.

The commissioners are scheduled to meet Manchin Friday afternoon in Charleston, W.Va., in hopes he might be able to deal with the issues in the state Legislature, which convenes Wednesday.

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Some residents and officials have shown concern about large annexations of land in the county, like those approved in the City of Ranson, W.Va.

Ranson has more than tripled in size in recent years due to annexations of land and some county officials are concerned about towns gobbling up all the prime development land in the county and creating confusing situations by having town boundaries extending different ways out into the county.

Ranson officials have said the annexations are important to ensure them economic vitality.

In particular, the commissioners are concerned about "shoestring" or "ribbon" annexations.

In shoestring annexations, narrow slices of property are annexed into a city to allow the city to reach a larger portion of property.

The commissioners say the City of Ranson has used shoestring annexations to get pieces of property in the Bardane, W.Va., area north of the city.

Although the commissioners want to see changes in state annexation laws, Jefferson County Administrator Leslie Smith told the commissioners Monday that she did not believe any significant changes to annexation laws would get consideration in the Legislature.

Commissioner Dale Manuel said discussing the issue with Manchin might be the best way to go.

If Manchin is sympathetic to the county's concerns, perhaps a task force of county and city government representatives could be formed to look into the matter, Manuel said.

If Manchin gets behind the effort, "then we can get somewhere," Manuel said.

In addition to the annexations, the commissioners agreed they would discuss with Manchin the county's share of slot machine revenue from Charles Town Races & Slots, said Commissioner Jane Tabb.

The commissioners want to make sure the county's share of slot machine revenue is not changed because they depend on the money, Tabb said.

Commissioner Greg Corliss said he is concerned about the Eastern Panhandle not getting enough funds to upgrade its roads.

Manuel suggested that the commissioners meet with federal lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., on that issue.

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