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Jefferson County Commission livid over zoning bill

January 25, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Calling it a "horrible idea" and drafted in "darkness" without telling county officials, the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday objected to legislation that has been sponsored by seven Eastern Panhandle lawmakers, including two from Jefferson County, that would require elections on new land-use regulations.

Jefferson County is in the process of drafting new land-use regulations - referred to as zoning - and the proposals have been criticized by some as being complicated and contradictory.

The commission began considering the new regulations after experts told them the county's current regulations have not been effective in managing urban and suburban growth or protecting agricultural areas.

Berkeley County is also in the process of considering zoning, which has been controversial.

One of the sponsors of House Bill 4119, Del. Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, said Thursday the bill is designed to allow residents to have a say in something that affects them.

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"It's the democratic process in action," Tabb said from Charleston, W.Va., where the Legislature is convening.

Commission members attacked the idea Thursday and Commissioner Greg Corliss pushed for a resolution opposing the legislation.

The resolution said House Bill 4119 interferes with county officials and government procedures.

"We'll be going nowhere for years," Corliss said.

"I think it's a horrible idea," Commission President Frances Morgan said.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan said he was "outraged" over the bill and said it was drafted in "darkness" without input from the commission.

Tabb, who has been critical of parts of the new land-use regulations, said no one consulted him when those proposals were being drafted.

"It goes both ways," Tabb said.

Commissioner Dale Manuel, the only commissioner to vote against the resolution, said the bill is a work in progress and feared the resolution would not show faith in local lawmakers.

Tabb said the bill would probably undergo changes.

The bill was introduced by Del. Jonathan Miller, R-Berkeley, and besides Tabb, is supported by Dels. John Overington, R-Berkeley; Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Craig Blair, R-Berkeley; Walter Duke, R-Berkeley; and Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson.

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