Hillsboro Town Council Will Seek Legal Opinion On Town Boundary Question
Hillsboro, WV – Nearly a year after Hillsboro town boundaries first came into question, town council voted Tuesday evening to hire an attorney and surveyor to determine exactly where the boundaries lie. Part of the attorney’s job will be to sort through the century-old records on file at the Pocahontas County courthouse.
According to courthouse records, the county assessor’s office says the boundaries changed in 1910 from those originally laid out by the town charter in 1886. For tax purposes, the county assessor’s office recognizes the newer boundaries as the official line between town and county. However, which body actually changed the boundaries the town or the county is unclear.
Councilman Jim Johnson would like to see the larger, 1886 boundaries which extend 1800 feet north of Third Street to include First and Second Street reinstituted as the legal boundaries of the town.
“I would like to see town council decide where they’d like to include the boundaries, include the community in it, and go for it,” Johnson says. “I think everybody agrees the boundaries are all messed up. I think, at that time, originally, they tried to put the community in the town boundaries, but now the community has moved around, and I think we should look at it to put the community back in the town boundaries.”
Redefining the town’s boundaries may not be so simple, says council woman Sandy Gladwell.
“What can the town offer these people by coming into the town,” Gladwell asked. “You have to offer them something, otherwise, they’re not going to agree with you to say, hey, I’m going to pay more taxes to you people, because I want to be set in the Town of Hillsboro. You’ve got to offer them something in order to come into it.”
In the end, town council voted 5-1 to hire an attorney and surveyor to find the historical boundaries of the town, with Johnson casting the dissenting vote. Johnson said he was concerned the town may pay for a survey that might then be overturned in court if a challenge is brought by residents on either side of the boundaries.
However there was no disagreement among council members to replace the trailer that has served as the town office. During a recent town work-day, Mayor Anne Walker says volunteers found that the roof of the trailer was failing and likely wouldn’t last another winter.
“They got up and look at the roof, and determined that it was just going to pretty much collapse with the next heavy snow,” says Walker. “In their opinion, it’s just too far-gone to do anything with.”
Council voted unanimously to remove the trailer and find a replacement. Currently, most of the town’s office equipment and records are being housed in the home of Treasurer Sandy Simmons. Council members say they will spend the next month looking at options for a new building, including a prefabricated garage kit that could be divided into office, storage and meeting spaces.
One concern brought up during Tuesday evening’s meeting was whether or not such a structure would meet standards for public safety and handicap accessibility for public buildings. These questions will be discussed in more detail at July’s Hillsboro Town Council meeting.
In other business, council reviewed its state-mandated sourcewater protection plan. The plan outlines potential threats to the wells that provide the town’s drinking water, such as industrial sites and above-ground fuel storage tanks and recommended steps to safeguard the wells. It also outlines what the town will do to provide safe drinking water in the event the municipal wells become contaminated.
Council approved a series of maintenance expenditures for the Hillsboro water and sewer utilities, as well as a drop box for utility payments. The drop box will be located next to the Hillsboro Fire House.
At Johnson’s request, town residents will also be receiving reminders in their water and sewer bills to keep their dogs from running loose in town.