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Manuel unsure of Jefferson County's next step on zoning

November 08, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- The president of the Jefferson County Commission said Sunday night he believes the county will have to come up with land-use laws that everyone can live with, although he admits he's not exactly sure what the county's next step will be.

Dale Manuel's comments came after Jefferson County voters on Saturday overwhelmingly rejected proposed new zoning regulations for the county.

The vote totals were 3,249 against the new regulations and 1,953 for them, Manuel said.

A key in coming up with new land-use regulations that everyone can accept is to include the public in the process, Manuel said Sunday.

The proposed new regulations set new residential developments near existing villages already served by public utilities. The county's rural areas would have been saved for agricultural use and open space.

The new law also would have allowed closer density for those developments that would be allowed in rural areas, from the one lot per 15 acres under the current rules to one lot per nine acres, depending whether a developer chose to cluster homes or spread them out on large lots.

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But there were complaints that the new zoning would be too restrictive and that it threatened to take away landowners' rights.

The existing ordinance, which will stay in effect as a result of Saturday's vote, allows land-use requests to be decided on a case-by-case basis through a point system.

Residents of Jefferson County's five incorporated towns were not eligible to vote Saturday because the county's zoning regulations do not affect their properties.

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