Jefferson Co. land-use changes criticized

September 08, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A local land-use expert who said he has reviewed many land-use regulations in other communities during his career on Thursday criticized newly proposed land-use laws that are being considered for Jefferson County.

Mark Dyck said the regulations being considered by the Jefferson County Commission would drive up the cost of school construction costs, among other problems, because of the restrictions they propose for the county's agricultural zone.

County Commissioners have retained a company known as Kendig Keast Collaborative, which specializes in the development of land-use laws, to develop new land-use regulations for the county.

According to Kendig Keast officials, the county's current land-use laws have not been effective in managing urban and suburban growth or protecting agricultural areas.


Kendig Keast officials have started writing new proposed land-use regulations, which can be read by going to the county government's Web site at

Mark Dyck, who manages the local William H. Gordon Associates engineering firm, said the Kendig Keast proposals call for most of the county to be zoned in an agricultural area.

Dyck criticized the proposal for its recommendation that public schools not be allowed in the rural zone.

That is going to force the local school system to compete with others for available building land in the county, which will drive up the cost of schools, Dyck said.

The proposal also prohibits churches from being built in the rural zone, which Dyck said goes against the rural nature of the county.

"I'm extremely concerned about what's being put down on paper," Dyck said.

Commissioner Jane Tabb, who is a farmer, said she also is concerned about the proposed restrictions in the agricultural zone.

Commission President Greg Corliss said Dyck's comments are helpful.

"Whether or not we're taking a wrong turn in the road, I'm not sure," Corliss said.

Commissioners periodically review the county's land-use laws. Tabb said Thursday she did not know how long it will take to conduct the current review.

Public hearings

What: The Jefferson County Commission will hold two public hearings and workshop sessions to present information on proposals for new land-use regulations for the county.

When: On Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. each day

Where: Both hearings and workshop sessions will begin in the Charles Town Library at 200 E. Washington Street.

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