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Zoning ordinance might not make May primary ballot

February 02, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Voters in Berkeley County might not have an opportunity to consider a zoning ordinance until November's general election, the county commission said this week.

After an information session Thursday on the January draft of the ordinance, Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said he anticipated the need for the commission to hold a second set of public hearings after the two scheduled for Feb. 7.

"We'll know more after we do the public hearings," Stubblefield said.

The hearings will be Feb. 7 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the county commission chambers on the second floor of the Dunn Building at 400 W. Stephen St.

Copies of the proposed zoning ordinance are available on the Berkeley County Commission's Web site, www.berkeleycountycomm.org. Copies also are available at the planning commission and county commission offices, and at each of the county's four public libraries.

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"I don't want to short-circuit or abbreviate the process for interest of time," said Stubblefield, whose own copy of the draft was marked with several bright pink "sticky notes" that noted certain sections.

"We're working hard to stay on schedule and have it on the (May 13 primary) ballot," Stubblefield added. "But if changes are needed that would prevent us from making the May deadline, it's best if we do it right and provide voters enough time to make their decision.

Stubblefield declined to specify how much time he thought was needed.

After hearing a detailed presentation about the zoning ordinance and accompanying proposal for transferable development rights, Commission President Steven C. Teufel said he had questions about how valuable the latter would be in current market conditions when so many lots already have gained approval under the current system.

Teufel said he was pushing for the zoning ordinance to be on the May ballot, but conceded it might be moved to November.

"I think there's some questions on the TDRs," said Teufel, who believes there is evidence that shows they have not been effective in other states.

Commissioner Ronald K. Collins seemed optimistic that the ordinances still could be placed on the ballot.

"We got a few things to tweak on it, but not that many," Collins said.

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