By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Joni Felton presented a proposal to the Town of Davis Council requesting needed funds to update out-of-date equipment at the Davis Volunteer Fire Department. J. Felton explained to the council, “We have purchased new stuff for our trucks including a new jaws of life equipment. They are lighter weight and cost is up to $60,000 and do not include a fan to do combustibles.
We wrote a grant and received $6,600 from the foundation and $10,000 from the Tucker County Commission. We are asking Davis to pitch in as well because with that and bunker gear we have an $80,000 debt that we have to cover.
That will make sure everyone is safe that runs with the new bunker gear, and they have to be replaced every five to 10 years depending on what they have been through. Right now, we are only doing the members who are there full-time and show up.
With that kind of debt and all the help we have offered the Town of Davis over the years, we are requesting the town help the fire department.”
The fire department’s plan was to obtain a loan for the amount remaining of the $63,400 after the council pitched in for what they would need to get the equipment. Recorder Jennie Helmick started out by suggesting the council give half the balance in the amount of $31,700.
Mayor Al Tomson suggested the fire department continue their fundraising efforts and if they did not have any success to come back to the council. J. Felton explained that was not an option since the equipment bill was due at the end of July.
Helmick then put in a motion for the council to give the whole needed amount of $63,400 to the DVFD so they did not have to take out any loans. The motion carried and was approved by unanimous vote with council member John Felton abstaining because he is a member of the fire department. The council received a round of applause from the members in the audience.
Those members of the audience also expressed feelings of frustration concerning the newly lifted memorandum on short-term rentals. During a special meeting held on June 28, the spilt decision to remove the short-term memorandum took place. After council member Jeanette Ware made a motion to continue the memorandum for an extended six-month period the motion did not pass with Tomson, Council members Charlotte Wares, Ron Hollis, and Kevin Flanagan voting no and Ware, Helmick, and Felton voting yes. The motion did not carry.
Audience member Betsy Whitehair said, “Local people are terribly upset, and I am terribly upset with most of the council people except for Ware, Helmick, and Felton. I think you did wrong to let that moratorium go, it should have been extended for at least another six months. There are no houses for the locals to buy because they are too expensive. People that I know who have rented for years have to leave this town because of that. I do not feel like you considered the local people who have been here for 50 or 60 years.”
Tomson stated the council was trying to do the short-term rentals in a way that was fair to everyone and done correctly.
Another audience member Cheryl Ball said, “A lot of people are upset. They feel like they have been slapped in the face. Because when you all (the council) had the first vote and it came up to a tie, you said you would have a special meeting with council member Felton there (Felton was absent at the time) and he would be deciding the tie breaker. That did not happen. You had a whole new discussion about it, and we were not allowed to speak. Everything changed.
That was very unfair, you already had a tie vote all you needed was that one vote where he could have said yes or no but that was not the way it went. Just because you all do not have problems on your end of the street, on your end of Henry, does not mean the rest of the people in town do not have problems with the BNB
They are very disrespectful. The parking is terrible with people not being able to get out of their garages to go to work in the morning. Some of them party all night long. People in this town have to get up and go to work and they are very disrespectful to the people of this town.”
Tomson explained that towards the end of August the tentative plan is for the Planning Commission to submit the draft form of the Comprehensive Plan to the Town Council. The meeting will be held on August 24 and from there the process continues with public meetings and steps taken by the council to adopt, modify, or reject the proposed Comprehensive Plan.
Director of the DOH Technical Support Division, Travis Long ,was once again present to answer any questions concerning Corridor H that stretches from Parsons to Davis. Long explained the revised preferred alignment would be the shortest alignment having the shortest emergency response time and with it being less gradient than a northern alignment it makes for the greenest choice.
The alignment will allow access to the Tucker County High School and avoids the Kempton and Coketon mine pools as well as the Thomas City Park and water supply.
The project’s preferred alternative will not increase noise or light pollution because truck traffic in Thomas from 219 will be relocated to the corridor or the truck bypass thus no more trucks will travel Front Street. There are also several natural barriers at the interchange north of 32 that would aid the alignment from sound and any lighting.
Long explained the plan was to have the project finished by the end of 2024. Tomson informed everyone that a committee of different skill set people was being formed to gather information and ask questions of the Corridor H project. The committee will be headed by Greg Downing and the members will be Bill Peterson, David Esch, Joyce Arnold, Hugh Rogers, and Brent Markwood. The committee once established, and operating will meet with the public along with Long and consider questions or concerns concerning the Corridor H project.
Tomson, “We want to try to get the facts on the table. There is a lot of emotion concerning this project and we want to get away from emotion to list just what the facts are.”
New proposed business licenses were presented to the council. The four listed on the agenda were for Air BNBs. The council voted to approve two of the four as it contained the needed information required by the town and the State of West Virginia. Felton said, “If they turn in what is asked in proper form there is no reason to say no.” Helmick and Ware disagreed and abstained from voting on the proposed business licenses.
Helmick said she didn’t want to go against what the people of Davis have said they do not want it, and she could not in good conscience go against that since they are the ones that voted for her. Ware said, “I am on the Planning Commission, and I have been on the commission for five years. We have been working extremely hard through different administrations, but we are not done yet.
We had a large community meeting where we discussed things, we have changed a little bit and tweaked things a little bit. We talked to attorneys, and we had people that were going to sue us. Now they are not going to sue but go ahead and do their short-term rentals without even paying attention to what we did as a council.
We were elected as council members to represent the town and our residents. Our residents have spoken, and they are upset with some of the short-term rental things that are happening. We should really have a comprehensive plan in place so that we can make ordinances that people have to go by.
We had a tied vote three weeks ago and this young man (Council member Felton) was away. We were to meet the next week for him to vote. I was present on the phone during this meeting, and I said the people have spoken and they are upset. Give us time. I made the motion to extend the memorandum for six months or longer if needed because later on we are going to be working on zoning.
Zoning is going to tell where the business section is and where the residents are. We are the residents, and we know where we are, but we are getting closer and closer to being closed in and not knowing our neighbors. I am abstaining because I do not feel like we are ready to just say yes to all short-term rentals.”
The next regular Town of Davis council meeting will be held on July 27, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Please visit the Town of Davis, West Virginia Facebook page for date, time, and location as this is subject to change.