Commission President Changes His Tune On Community Planning

Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Commission President Martin Saffer, until recently an ardent supporter of creating a community planning task force, now says it may not be the right time for the county to tackle this issue. He and Commissioner Reta Griffith spoke at length about the issue during the July Commissioners Corner program on Allegheny Mountain Radio. Saffer had this to say when asked about his reaction to a recent public forum on the need for community planning.

“I came away with the feeling that the Commission should understand that politics has to be the art of accomplishing the possible” says Saffer “and that a comprehensive plan that includes land use restrictions or land use as an element is perhaps a bridge too far at this point.”

Saffer points out the West Virginia statute regarding comprehensive plans doesn’t appear to mandate that the county create a plan, even for sake of future state funding. He says he feels it would be better to work on what is already on the county’s plate.

“Let’s concentrate on getting a college here, let’s concentrate on seeing if we can’t create some jobs, deal with drug addiction, the tourism industry and the water resource task force” says Saffer.

Saffer, along with Pocahontas County Coordinator Jay Miller, had supported in recent Commission meetings the idea of creating a community planning task force. While he no longer thinks such a group is needed, he still supports the idea behind community planning – listening to the concerns of county residents and working on problems together.

Saffer’s comments were music to the ears of fellow Commissioner Reta Griffith. She agrees that creating a community planning task force may be move divisive than helpful in a county where opinions about such issues as land use can differ dramatically. She also sees a bit of reality in Saffer’s position on planning.

“What I see–and I applaud that in you Martin–is that he’s kind of picking and choosing his battles at this point,” says Griffith. “And he would rather work on projects, as would I, than to sit and fight over things that in the end don’t really result in a project that’s tangible, that someone can see.”

Griffith points out a related issue – that of adopting a new flood plain ordinance will be coming up at future Commission meetings. Some residents refer to the current flood ordinance as a form of zoning. But Griffith says the ordinance must be adopted by the county by November so that those in flood plains can qualify for flood plain insurance protection.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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