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Morgan Co. might form land-use panel

April 24, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A new direction and new leadership is needed to plan Morgan County's land use, Barbara Tutor told the Morgan County Commission on Thursday, and the commission wants to move forward to form a land-use committee.

Tutor participated in last year's meetings of the committee that discussed the county's land use for six months and was chaired by former Commissioner Glen R. Stotler.

Stotler had said zoning was not going to be part of the land-use discussion, and Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson declined to attend the meetings.

Tutor said the new committee needs a skilled planning facilitator who reaches out and inspires public participation.

She said West Virginia Code provides guidelines for land-use planning, and it either should be followed or a "rational alternative" should be documented for discussion in public meetings.

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Tutor said members are needed with specific expertise in key areas, such as those with ecological expertise and scientific backgrounds in wilderness or in natural resources. Members with an economic background such as a large-scale economic developer and small business representative, for example, should be included.

Other areas that should be represented include the cultural arts and public safety, infrastructure, transportation, communications and from the capital projects, finance and legal fields, Tutor said.

Tutor said she would like to continue to serve on the land-use committee.

Hutchinson said there is a need to broaden the committee to include a larger view and a group to represent the public at large.

She said Tutor's suggestion reminds her of how the rural water committee had set up subcommittees with people with expertise in their field.

She said she will talk with the county planning commission to see what needs to be done.

Commissioner Stacy A. Dugan said she wants to proceed with the committee by the end of May.

Patti Miller also participated in last year's meetings. She said hours were spent without anything being accomplished. "They were only information gatherings," Miller said.

David Schwartz said he attended a couple of meetings and the message was clear not to talk about zoning in any way.

Hutchinson said that was the reason she did not participate.

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