Developers, residents sound off on Raco issue

December 22, 2006

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The following are some of the comments from citizens who spoke overwhelmingly Thursday against the Jefferson County Commission's proposal to terminate Paul Raco from his job as executive director of the county's department of planning, zoning and engineering.

- Pete Smith, a former member of the Jefferson County Planning Commission, said Raco always has strictly and fairly enforced the county's land-use regulations, which apply to home building and other projects. If the commission is unhappy with Raco's work, they should set up some job performance criteria and give Raco six months to meet them, Smith said.

- Former Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Ruland also said Raco has strictly interpreted the county's land-use laws. "Gents, I'm appalled," Ruland said.

- Local developer Ken Lowe said Raco never has had a hidden agenda. Lowe said his biggest fear is that something else is brewing - like a moratorium on growth. "It's about stopping everything from happening," Lowe said. "I say, 'Shame on you for what you've done.'''


- "I feel embarrassed for our county now," said Lynne Deming, a Jefferson County Planning Commission member.

- Paul Espinosa said he reviewed a video of the Dec. 14 county commission meeting where the termination first was discussed, and said he was "appalled. We owe our employees and public servants better than that."

- Charles Town resident Mike Stoneberger warned commission members to be careful what they ask for, and reminded them that getting rid of Raco would mean throwing away more than 20 years of planning experience. "You'd be asking for a train wreck," Stoneberger said.

- "May the Lord have mercy on your soul," said Lyle "Cam" Tabb, husband of Commissioner Jane Tabb.

- Mason Carter, ordinance compliance officer in Raco's office, said it is not Raco's fault that houses are being built in the county. Widespread annexations being undertaken by some cities is the big challenge facing the county, Carter said.

- "I think this is one of the most bizarre happenings I have ever witnessed," said Marty Kable, a member of the Jefferson County Public Service District. "The county is watching."

- Local developer Eric Lewis said Raco knows land-use laws "like the back of his hand." Lewis said he wonders who whispered in the ears of commission members that Raco needs to be terminated.

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