By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The Town of Davis Planning Commission and Council members hosted an open public hearing meeting to allow the residents of Davis to express their concerns and receive answers to their questions. There were an estimated 50 residents in attendance of the meeting. This was the second of such meeting as the first was held in May by the Planning Commission.
Davis Mayor Al Tomson welcomed everyone to the meeting and said, “Just to give you an idea of what happens going forward. Today we will hear your comments, your questions, and we will take those as a town council. We will look at those.
We will put together a paper and then we send it back to the Planning Commission for them to look at and they will decide what they want to do with it. They can accept the comments. They can reject the comments. They can modify the comments.
Then they will send it back to the Town Council where the Town Council will make a vote on the Comprehensive Plan. The vote will be to accept it or reject it, and those are the only two options at that point. So, that is the process going forward and it is probably about a two- or three-month time frame before we know what the status of the Comprehensive Plan.”
Tomson explained that the document had been worked on for five years starting in 2017. In the beginning stages of the plan Davis worked together with Thomas due to similarities of the two entities, but towards the end the two entities separated to fit each’s own needs.
To explain a bit of information about the drafted Comprehensive Plan dated August 2022 the Executive Summary states, “The Town of Davis is situated in the rolling mountains of West Virginia. In 2020, it housed a small community of 674 residents. It is located near a National Wildlife Refuge, a National
Wilderness Area, two state parks and three ski resorts. This environment provides ample outdoor
recreating opportunities. As a result, tourism has been steadily increasing over the past twenty
years. These continuous changes have transformed what was once a lumber town into one of the
most visited small communities in West Virginia. While this has produced benefits for local
businesses, it has also led to increased traffic and congestion that are evident on our roads and in
our Town. New types of developments have emerged, and deciding what type of development is
appropriate in certain locations is often contentious. Public utilities are reaching their capacity in
terms of volume and age, and will have to be updated and expanded to address any impacts
continued development would have on them.
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.
The Comprehensive Plan is a guide and a tool that can be utilized for making land decisions,
preparing and implementing ordinances and influencing the rate and location of future growth.
The Plan is also a dynamic document which will be updated every five years, or more often as
necessary, in order to respond to changing needs, conditions and emerging trends.”
The plan consists of 10 different sections including the introduction. The remaining sections provide information that pertains to land use, community design, preferred development areas, historic preservation, housing, transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and public services. There are two sub-sections under public services, one is for tourism and recreations and the other is for implementation strategies.
Among the guest to ask question or make comments was Davis resident Lori Quattro. Quattro presented the council and commission members with a list of issues she thought needed to be addressed in the plan. Addressing the council members Quattro said, “I have three pages of items. I did it page by page, paragraph by paragraph just so you could match this to the plan and see what I am talking about.” Quattro continued by saying, “You (speaking to Mayor Tomson) told me to go down to City Hall and sit and read it at City Hall. There is no way a person can go down there to make changes and study what was put together. This should have been made available to everyone. It was never available in the May meeting. Nobody in May sat here to told us everything that is in here. It just did not happen.
The May meeting was we (the Planning Commission) will hear what you have to say. We (the residents) did not have anything to go by. Tomson responded by saying, “That is why we put it online and we were willing to make copies.” At which point several members of the audience expressed they had not seen the plan or received a copy as well.
Tomson gave a generalization of the plan and said, “It is a plan. It is not an ordinance. It is not zoning. It is nothing like that. It is a vision. Think about if you are going on a trip with your family. You do not just get in your car and go. You make a plan of how are you going to there, what are you going to do when you get there, where are you going to stay, where are you going to eat and who is going to go with you. These are all things that you look at before you start the journey.
This is a plan for the community. Where do we want to be in five years, ten years, 15 years and this is the vision today. In five years, this document may be totally different. It is a living, breathing document. It is what the community, all of us, think we want our community to look like. These are the kinds of things discussed in the Comprehensive Plan.”
Mayor Tomson then touched based on each section of the plan and what those sections cover.
Council member Jeannette Ware who is also a member of the Planning Commission added by saying, “I have numerous pages of notes and I put everybody’s names down if I recognized you or asked for your name. I took all the suggestions to our Planning Commission meetings. So, it was not that those comments in May were disregarded. They were looked at and everything.” Quattro said, “They were looked at, but they were not changed.”
Ware continued, “Some of the things were changed or are going to be changed because I have things that you (Quattro) have talked to me about and other people. I have gone to the members of the Planning Commission as a commission person, and we have discussed, and we agreed on I know of two things. Punctuation and all we are not worried about that. We have had others talk about the punctuation. For you to say that we are not going to do anything with your suggestions that is not correct.”
Other audience members made comments and asked questions but left the meeting before their names could be gotten from them. The questions and comments mentioned included work force housing, the industrial park, and infrastructure issues.
Tomson ended the meeting by inviting everyone to attend Town of Davis Council and Planning Commission Meetings as they are all open to the public.