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Berkeley County land plan update nears finish line

February 16, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Work on the update of Berkeley County's comprehensive land plan nears the finish line with the submission next week of a draft of the plan to the committee that began working on it more than eight months ago.

County planner Matt Mullenax said the 30 Planning Advisory Committee members, who have labored since last May to craft an update of the county's 15-year-old land use document, will be presented with a first draft of the plan by Gannett-Fleming Inc. on Monday in County Commission chambers.

"It's a big day," Mullenax said.

The county's planning commission contracted with the Pennsyvania consultant company last February to assist with the development of the master plan, which was last revised in 1990 by Redman/Johnston Associates Ltd.

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Since then, committee members have worked with the consultant and during a series of community sessions and workshops with invited contributors to shape the plan that will guide the county's growth patterns by examining such issues as land use, transportation, economic development, housing and agricultural, natural and cultural resource conservation.

PAC chairman Bill Stubblefield said the plan will be presented for review to the public before it is submitted to the planning commission, which is expected to forward it to the county commission this spring.

Adoption of the master plan will pave the way for the development of a land-use ordinance, approval of which by voters could be decided on in November, following a vote by the County Commission two weeks ago to enter into negotiations with Gannett-Fleming to draft a countywide zoning ordinance.

The company will present a scope of services and a fee schedule to develop the proposed ordinance to the commissioners during their weekly meeting today, Mullenax said.

Mullenax said he will present the commission with a list of names for a committee that will work with the consultant. This committee likely will include seven members, Mullenax said, describing its work as more focused and limited.

"The comprehensive plan is more about inclusion of things versus the zoning ordinance which is all about specifics and language," he said.

Mullenax said members of the zoning committee might be required to meet weekly in time for a draft to be presented for adoption by the county commission in June.

A previous effort to adopt a countywide land-use ordinance was rejected by voters in 1994.

The pending approval of the comprehensive plan has also put on hold the adoption by the county commission of the county's subdivision regulations.

Earlier this month, the commission voted to delay approving the subdivision regulations, which the planning commission worked throughout 2005 to complete, until the update of the comprehensive plan is completed.

More information about the county's comprehensive plan is available by visting the project's website at www.berkeleycompplan.net.

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