By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The Town of Davis Planning Commission has been working diligently on completing a solid and workable comprehensive plan for the town. The document has been thoroughly reviewed and revised with suggestions from the citizens of Davis as well as the town council. A drafted plan has been passed back and forth between the planning commission and the council, but it is now in its final stages for approval. One of the last steps taken was a special meeting held to discuss the final recommendations from the town council. Once those agreed upon document changes have been made, it will then be presented to the council for final approval.
According to the proposed plan the purpose of a comprehensive plan is to prepare for the future and the Davis plan states, “The Town of Davis Comprehensive Plan is designed to provide information and to serve as a valuable resource to plan for the future of Davis. The Comprehensive Plan is the Town’s official guide for land use, housing, transportation, economic development, infrastructure, public services, and community character. It provides a foundation for decision-making that is based on community consensus and an understanding of existing conditions and anticipated opportunities and issues. The Plan will serve as the Town’s guiding document for 10-20 years into the future, protecting and enhancing the unique character of our community.
Per W. Va. Code 8A-3-1(a), “The general purpose of a comprehensive plan is to guide a governing body to accomplish a coordinated and compatible development of land and improvements within its territorial jurisdiction, in accordance with present and future needs and resources.” Most people do not realize how important planning is for local government. People plan every day of their lives; what to wear, how to get to work, and what to make for dinner. Local governments also need to plan in order to provide services and a high quality of life for residents. The services that local governments provide do not just occur, they are planned in advance. Many local government functions such as budgeting, parks, infrastructure services, and community facilities require planning.”
The planning commission took into advisement every recommendation made by the council. There were solid arguments made by both parties and an agreement was made as to what would be best. For instance, in the drafted plan on page 13 under Objective 5 it stated, “Objective 5: Emphasize and support locally owned businesses by minimizing development of large formula or “big box” stores.” Mayor Al Tomson and the town council members suggested changing the wording from “locally owned businesses” to “all businesses but especially locally owned businesses.” Both sides agreed.
There were some suggestions made by the council that could not be changed due to state code. One such instance was on page 14 under Objective 11, Action 1 that reads, “Objective 11: Protect sensitive areas such as wetlands, streams, steep slopes, etc. Action 1: Adopt a sensitive areas ordinance regulating development in sensitive areas to protect from damage and promote responsible development.” Planning Commission member Judy Cronauer explained that this statement was required by state code and could not be revised. Tomson with a smile said, “State code trumps everything.”
The plan, if accepted by the town council during their meeting on January 11, will be effect for the next 10 years. Of course, during those ten years if any changes or amendments are deemed necessary they can be made to the document. Also announced during the meeting were the upcoming resignations of Charlotte Wales and Brian Sarfino. Both have expressed their intent to resign from the Planning Commission once the Comprehensive Plan is accepted by the town council and placed into effect.
Mayor Tomson ended the meeting by saying, “You guys have done a great job. What we were looking for was the plan needs to allow for the future. Whatever the future is, so it needs to be flexible. I think it (the plan) gives the people in the future the flexibility just like it does today. It also gives us the tools to establish the basis of what will allow us to try and protect what we have in Davis in terms of residential areas and try to keep the character of the community that we all want. I think we have accomplished both very well.”