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Jefferson Co. land-use revisions criticized

January 30, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Proposed changes to Jefferson County's land-use regulations are off to a bumpy start.

During a public hearing Monday night, citizens complained that the proposed regulations are contradictory and hard to understand.

Jefferson County Commission members periodically review the county's land-use regulations and have picked the Kendig Keast Collaborative firm to help them with a current review of the laws.

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

County resident Daniel Lutz said during a public hearing at the Charles Town Library that some segments of the Kendig Keast proposal are contradictory to other parts and definitions in the document are hard to understand.

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Local resident Lyn Widmyer, a longtime land planner in Montgomery County, Md., said there is a considerable amount of information to sift through and it can be "very complex and very dense. There's got to be a way to make it more understandable and more manageable," Widmyer told the commission and a Kendig Keast official.

Jack Mitchell of Bakerton, W.Va., said the proposal refers to the county commission being able to make design decisions on developments, but that is "none of their business. There's so many things I find in here that's upsetting to read."

Land surveyor John Kusner said the county's land-use regulations should be easy to understand by everyone in the county. "We have the opposite of that," Kusner said.

Lane Kendig of Kendig Keast Collaborative did not respond immediately to the criticism.

Concern was expressed during the hearing about how the proposed land-use regulations deal with protection of water resources.

Kendig said some sinkholes in the county can directly access groundwater supplies and he suggested that those be off limits for development.

Officials at the hearing said that much work remains to be completed on the new regulations.

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