By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
The Tucker County Planning Commission is moving forward with updating the existing Comprehensive Plan. The original document was approved by the Tucker County Commission in December of 2012 with a revision approved in August of 2014. At that time the Planning Commission members were Ben Herrick as President, Keith Strausbaugh as Vice President, Robin McClintock was the Secretary, Rob Burns was the Treasurer, Kim Bennett, April Miller, Jonathan Hicks, and Diane Hinkle as the County Commission Representative.
The history of the plan according to the Comprehensive Plan is, “The comprehensive planning process for Tucker County initially began in 1992 with the preparation of the original Comprehensive Plan. In 1995, the County worked with the Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) to redraft the Comprehensive Plan. In 2008, the Planning Commission continued the planning process with the forwarding of a survey to gain information from the residents.
The Planning Commission used the results of the survey as the input from the county residents in the development of the following revision to the Comprehensive Plan.
With the construction of US Highway 48 (Corridor H), Tucker County may have the opportunity to experience growth and development that may affect its natural resources and place a strain upon its ability to provide both community services and public facilities. While the new highway will provide economic benefits to the county, the road will also place increasing demands for utilities, transportation, infrastructure, and services that must be considered.
Faced with the prospect of development, the Tucker County Commission began the process of developing a Comprehensive Plan to help guide county growth for the next 20 years. The Tucker County Planning Commission worked with the West Virginia University Extension Service in an effort to update the current Comprehensive Plan.”
With the 20-year mark approaching the Planning Commission is working towards revising the document to fit with today’s needs for the county. Today’s board members are Tim McLean (formerly referred to as McCloud, please forgive the misprint from before) as President, Emily Hauger Wilson as Vice-President, Robin McClintock is the Secretary, Marti Neustadt is the Treasurer, Angie Shockley, Ben Herrick, Jonathan Hicks, William “Bill” Shahan, and Mike Rosenau is the Tucker County Commission representative.
Each board member has voluntarily taken assigned designated sections of the plan to work on between the monthly Planning Commission meetings. And although it may take a while to update the document the members of the board are in hopes that the process will go smoothly since they have a former approved document to use as a reference.
McLean said, “It is going to take all of us and take a while to write this thing. I believe it would be easier if you all agree to take a piece of it and work that piece. As our meetings come and go, we can come back in say: what is your progress on your piece of it; are there any speed bumps; I can only get this far with it; I have come to a dead end, and that is how I see this thing working.” McLean asked all members to be forthcoming with their progress so that everyone stays on schedule or gets help if needed.
Discussed in the plan are the goals, objectives and purpose of the document. According to the Comprehensive Plan, “The goal of the Comprehensive Plan is to achieve a balance between bringing prosperity and business development to the county while continuing to safeguard the natural beauty and the resources that are available within the county. Goals are concerned with the long term, and often describe ideal situations that would result if all plan purposes were fully realized. Since goals are value-based, their attainment is difficult to measure.
Objectives are specific statements that carry out a plan in the short term. Objectives are measurable benchmarks that can be used to assess incremental progress in achieving the broader purposes expressed in the goals. The objectives will we individually set forth in each section of the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan is authorized by the West Virginia Code Chapter 8A, Article 3. The purpose of preparing a Comprehensive Plan is to: (1) promote the coordinated development of land and improvements to meet the future needs of the county; (2) achieve sound planning to assist the governing body in preserving quality of life and enhancing that quality of life to adapt to the future needs of the county relating to economic, physical, or social changes; (3) promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity, and general welfare of county residents; and, (4) promote efficiency and economy during the development process.
The Comprehensive Plan is a policy guide for the Tucker County Planning Commission and the Tucker County Commission as they assess the location, character, and the extent of future development for the county. The plan contains proposed policies and other recommendations to be implemented over time through a variety of decision-making actions including subdivision of land, and the location and construction of public infrastructure improvements, among other things.
The Tucker County Comprehensive Plan was developed so that decisions affecting the county’s lands should be made in a coordinated and responsible manner to capitalize on the county’s geographic location and its desirable physical features.
The Comprehensive Plan shall set forth goals and objectives to allow an informed decision-making process, ensure consistency in government, and coordinate the various arms of the local government. It will create conditions positive for vital resources, reduce resource waste relating to haphazard development and sprawl, preserve historic landmarks and other resources, and promote a sense of community character and identity. It will promote the most efficient utilization of available resources, coordinate development into well-planned communities, and advocate cost-effective development of facilities and services.”
McClintock said, “So, when we did this originally before 2010, we had a meeting with all of the stakeholders in the county. We asked them to write a couple of paragraphs of what they do and what their resources are. So, every one of those sections actually originates with the people that is about.”
McClintock gave EMS, and the Development Authority as examples, and said, “And then we fine-tuned and when we were updating we sent the sections back to the stakeholders. We assigned a member to usher that through and then brought the edits back to the group (Planning Commission). McClintock continued by saying that are certain obvious things that have to done such as housing.
Rosenau said, “The Comprehensive Plan, I was on the original, so it is not really as much as the public but what our county sees as the need. It is not so much as what we would like as what we have to see. It is what we actually have so, that is the Comprehensive Plan and if we want to do something beyond that is a whole different ball game than our comprehensive plan. This is what we actually have in our county now and what we plan to use.”
The next Planning Commission meeting will be held on January 9, 2023, at 1 p.m. as the members voted to cancel December’s meeting. The meeting will take place in the Courthouse Courtroom located at 211 First Street, Parsons.