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Few weigh in on Morgan County zoning ordinance changes

July 31, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- No more than 30 people attended Thursday night's public hearing at the Morgan County Courthouse on changes made to the county's proposed zoning ordinance.

Some who attended voiced their opinions about the ordinance.

Morgan County resident Eric Pritchard said the county's comprehensive plan, which had to be in place before a zoning ordinance could be enacted, "violates the law."

Pritchard said the comprehensive plan is only a "wish list" and does not have an efficient financial plan.

Jack Soronen, president of the Morgan County Planning Commission, disagreed with Pritchard.

"The comprehensive plan fulfills the requirements of (West Virginia Code) 8A," Soronen said. "I believe it does."

Morgan County Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said the comprehensive plan was formed three years ago and it took more than two years to draft it. She asked Pritchard why he didn't bring it up before.

"I was ignored," he said, but he also said he was studying other areas of the law he wanted to pursue.

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Soronen said he wanted to alleviate Pritchard's concern and will discuss it with the planning commission.

Hutchinson said a legal review would be made and "if there is a problem, we will fix it," she said.

Brad Close, a Republican candidate running for a Morgan County Commission seat, asked the commission if the proposed ordinance would be on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

All three commissioners said they wanted the ordinance to appear on the ballot.

Close said after the meeting that he wants the ordinance on the ballot. He said he believes the county's subdivision regulations are all the county needs.

Hutchinson stressed in the meeting the difference between the current subdivision regulations and zoning.

"Zoning answers about where things can be done, and the subdivision document cannot do that," she said.

Mark Hann, another Morgan County resident, said people who live on U.S. 522 should not expect peace and quiet. He said he did not want any more rules.

Bert Lustig of Protect Morgan County, a group that wants the zoning ordinance, said he agreed with Hann that people living on U.S. 522 should not expect privacy.

"But that's a very small part," he said.

Lustig said he lives in the Sleepy Creek Mountain area, and he believes in property owners' rights, "but I don't feel any property owner has the right to cause my property to be lowered in value," he said.

He said he joined Protect Morgan County to keep the county from being spoiled by random industrial or large-scale housing development.

"I have a right to expect that development or industry will not move in next door, and that's what this is about," he said.

The commissioners will vote to put the proposed ordinance on the November election ballot at the Aug. 5 commission meeting.

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