By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The planning commission has switched gears from the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) to updating the existing zoning ordinance for Canaan Valley to include Route 48. The document is severely outdated and has not been looked at in many years. Planning Commission president Tim McLean said, “We left our last meeting with a lot of ideas about where to go forward.”
While seeking the advisement from Attorney John Cooper, McLean explained to Cooper that the board was theorizing about taking the 20-year-old document, morphing it, and turning it into a feasible and enforceable zoning ordinance document for protecting the area out on Route 48 that is continuous to Davis and Thomas. McLean said, “Cooper gave his opinion that he was not sure about going forward with this but after exchanging emails back and forth with Angie (Planning Commission member) I am not discouraged. Until some body cuts our legs out from us, I am not discouraged.
It is a different piece of West Virginia state code. It is the statute 8A and the Sub Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance is statute 5A”
Https://code.wvlegislature.gov/8A-1-1/ defines West Virginia state code 8A as the following: “(1) That planning land development and land use is vitally important to a community; (2) A planning commission is helpful to a community to plan for land development, land use and the future; (3) A plan and a vision for the future is important when deciding uses for and development of land; (4) That sprawl is not advantageous to a community; (5) A comprehensive plan is a guide to a community’s goals and objectives and a way to meet those goals and objectives; (6) That the needs of agriculture, residential areas, industry and business be recognized in future growth; (7) That the growth of the community is commensurate with and promotive of the efficient and economical use of public funds; (8) Promoting growth that is economically sound, environmentally friendly and supportive of community livability to enhance quality of life is a good objective for a governing body; and(9) Governing bodies of municipalities and counties need flexibility when authorizing land development and use.
Therefore, the Legislature encourages and recommends the following: (1) The goal of a governing body should be to have a plan and a vision for the future, and an agency to oversee it; (2) A governing body should have a planning commission, to serve in an advisory capacity to the governing body, and promote the orderly development of its community; (3) A comprehensive plan should be the basis for land development and use, and be reviewed and updated on a regular basis; (4) A goal of a governing body should be to reduce sprawl; (5) That planning commissions prepare a comprehensive plan and governing bodies adopt the comprehensive plans; (6) Governing bodies, units of government and planning commissions work together to provide for a better community; (7) Governing bodies may have certain regulatory powers over developments affecting the public welfare; and
Based upon a comprehensive plan, governing bodies may: (A) Enact a subdivision and land development ordinance; (B) Require plans and plats for land development; (C) Issue improvement location permits for construction; and (D) Enact a zoning ordinance.”
Planning commission member Emily Watson reported to McLean before the meeting that she had been in contact with the Land Use Law Clinic at WVU. McLean reported that Watson confirmed from the law clinic that what the commission had talked about doing with the zoning ordinance is legal.
The new zoning ordinance will be complicated according to McLean, “It is complicated. We will take what we feel we need out of the subdivision ordinance. One of things Cooper had said he liked about the subdivision ordinance was the bonding, but there are other things in the there that we hold near and dear to us that ought to make it (zoning ordinance) enforceable and ought to be in the document.
I do not want to spend five years beating this thing to death. I do not think we have to. I think over the course of the next three months or so we can pull out of the subdivision what we want, and we can take the existing zoning ordinance with a fresh set of eyes. Combine the two and give that to someone like the law clinic and see where we have messed up, or where we have left the county exposed or vulnerable.”
With the hopes of having the document ready for spring vote the board will have to work diligently, submit the document to a law clinic type organization for review, have two public meetings, and have the land surveyed before the residents of Davis and Thomas can vote on it. Planning commission secretary Robin McClintock also suggested the board get in touch with Region VII Planning and Development Board as well.
The next Planning Commission meeting will be held on October 11, 2002, at 1 p.m. and will be located in the Tucker County Old Courthouse Courtroom, Third Floor, Parsons, WV, 26287.