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Public hearing on zoning stirs crowd in Morgan County

Issue to be placed on ballot in November

July 04, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- About 90 people showed up to listen to or make their own comments at Thursday night's public hearing on a proposed zoning ordinance in Morgan County.

The Morgan County Commission asked the county's planning commission last November to form a subcommittee to study zoning and prepare a zoning ordinance. It is to be placed on the ballot in November so citizens can vote for or against zoning in the general election.

"This is not a debate. It's for educational purposes," Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said before the public hearing began in the Warm Springs Middle School cafeteria.

"What's it going to cost the taxpayer?" asked resident Todd Farris, the Democratic nominee running for the open seat on the Morgan County Commission.

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Hutchinson said a full-time zoning administrator would cost about $50,000 a year with benefits.

Residents Larry Lower and Jerry Berman said the planning commission members who created the ordinance need to provide more information.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding (about zoning)," Berman said. All 74 pages of the ordinance are "not simple to read," he said.

Instead of asking questions regarding the ordinance, many of the people who signed up to speak gave their opinions about zoning and how it would affect Morgan County.

Resident farmer Phil Harmison said farmers "don't have time or money for more regulations."

"It's my land and I don't want zoning," he said, a comment that was followed by loud applause.

"I have more trust in my neighbor than trusting my government," said land-use subcommittee member Rubin Darby.

Darby said hewants the water recharge area to be protected, "and I wish the zoning ordinance stopped there."

Planning Commission member Amy Lane, who was also part of the land-use study, said the ordinance provides "the least impact on the general citizen, but protects our resources."

Lane said people need to read the document and make an informed decision.

Hutchinson said after the meeting that seminars would be given throughout the county so people could gain a better understanding of the proposed ordinance.

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