A Comprehensive Plan for Pocahontas County?
At their October 5th meeting, the Pocahontas County Commissioners were briefed by their Council, Bob Martin, about the need for the County to form a Comprehensive Plan. In September Martin attended the Mountain State Land Use Academy held at Mountain Quest, and staffed by the WVU Law School’s Land Use Clinic. Martin explains what he learned at the Academy.
“I think this is vitally important to the County and the citizens of the County that every Federal grant and most State grants got a question on there -‘do you have a comprehensive plan?’” said Martin. “We do not have a Comprehensive Plan and when you say ‘Comprehensive Plan’, I was afraid that involved Zoning & land use planning –all that stuff that would naturally generate a lot of antagonism.”
But Martin says that the County does need a Comprehensive Plan but not necessarily Zoning.
“Frankly, we’ve got to have a Comprehensive Plan if we’re going to get any Federal Money or any of these State grants” said Martin. “The big question is ‘can you have a Comprehensive Plan without Zoning? ‘. The simple answer is ‘yea, we can have a Comprehensive Plan for the County. We can do it without a Zoning aspect to it. We can do it with a Land Use aspect.”
Martin points out that the Land Use aspect would be a “suggested” use for property which would not be binding on the property owner like Zoning would be. He used Board President Beard’s farm as an example. The Comprehensive Plan’s Land Use map might designate the farm as being “Agricultural” but this would not stop Beard, or someone he wants to sell the land to from doing some different business there.
There are benefits to adopting a Comprehensive Plan as Martin reveals.
“If we have a Comprehensive Plan and we report that to FEMA, everybody in the County then gets a 10% reduction on their premiums on their Flood Insurance” says Martin. “That right there is worth it for us doing something for the citizens of Pocahontas County. And we’ll actually save them cash dollars out of their pockets for doing something that’s not going to cost us anything; it’s not going to involve Zoning; it’s going to make us eligible for State (and) Federal grants which we are not eligible for now.”
Martin emphasized that no consideration of Zoning would be part of this, but the County needs a Comprehensive Plan and that all the work and expenses for developing the plan would be provided free of charge by the WVU Land Use Clinic. The Commissioners asked Martin to invite the Clinic’s staff to brief them at a future Commission meeting.
Martin also told the Commissioners that after the County spent $350.00 having the building ithat Martin Saffer had offered to donate to the County inspected, Saffer withdrew his offer. The Commissioners want Martin to approach Saffer about reimbursing that money in return for getting the the results of the inspection.
Martin informed the Commission that the Board of Education has voted to accept the Slaven Property which the Commission has proposed returning to the Board. The Commissioners will make their offer official by voting on it at the next meeting.
Martin also advised the Commission that the Tax Assessor, based on a non-binding opinion of the State Tax Department, will remove the tax exempt status for the current year from the Former Shoe Factory Building, which is owned by the County because the Commission had leased a portion of the building to a for profit business, Dawns Pet Grooming. This will cost the County an estimated $6000.00 in taxes this coming July. The Commission terminated the lease with the business but not until after July 1.
Courthouse Custodian Mike Cain briefed the Commissioners about the necessity of hiring a certified Alarm Dealer to do an inspection and test of the building fire alarm.
John Tuggle, Executive Director of the Region 4 Planning and Development Council briefed the Commission on the construction progress at the Linwood Waste Treatment Project. He said the project is about on schedule, but the construction at the plant itself will stop for the winter when the snow arrives. He also advised that the high tariff assessments may be revisited after the first year of operation when revenues can be better assessed. He expects the tariff will be lowered some.
The Commissioners discussed 911 employee issues in a closed session, with no immediate action being taken.