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Ex-planning commissinoer lauded for trying to control growth

September 20, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A group of northern Berkeley County residents on Wednesday honored former county Planning Commissioner Richard Talbott for "daring to challenge the status quo" in his tenure on the panel.

David Klinger of Concerned Citizens of Whiting's Neck said he didn't think Talbott was given the "bon voyage" he deserved when County Commissioners decided not to reappoint him. The group honored him as the Berkeley County citizens' choice as Planning Commissioner of 2007.

"The loneliest job in the world is being a prophet in one's own land," added Klinger, reflecting on Talbott's often lone votes against development projects.

Talbott said he was heartened by reports of a possible change in legal interpretation that precipitated recent planning commission decisions to hold off on approval of about 500 housing units in southern Berkeley County.

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Talbott's votes against the projects centered around his interpretation of governing code that indicated planning decisions should be made based on consideration of residents' "health, safety and welfare."

While touting Talbott's leadership, Klinger said he didn't want to slight the other planning commission members, who he said are "good people in a bad process."

"A bad process generates bad outcomes," Klinger said.

Betty Beckley said the group members were not "no-growthers."

"We just want good planning," Beckley said.

Acknowledging the effect of growth on the county school system, Talbott said his son has been forced to stand up while eating his lunch at the newest of the county's three high schools.

"It's starting to hurt us ... we're drowning in our own growth," Talbott said.

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