Annexation concerns voiced

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission heard from Windsor Heights officials seeking to extend the village’s boundaries and from Short Creek residents opposed to it at a hearing held before its regular meeting Tuesday.

Windsor Heights officials have asked the commission to approve the village’s annexation of Airport Road east to Girtys Point Road and west to state Route 2 and Route 2 south to Brooke County’s southern border.

Village Solicitor Quan Lee said the annexation also would include the bottom of Windy Hill Road, which leads to the hilltop where the community is located, but no property.

The commission is expected to make a decision on the proposal next week.

A petition signed by about 30 residents of the Short Creek area in protest of the annexation was submitted to the commission amid rumors the village intended later to annex the property through another minor boundary adjustment.

Stacy Hornick, a former Windor Heights mayor, said the residents have been misinformed. She said while Windsor Heights Council years ago discussed annexing property south of it, there are no plans to do that now.

Windsor Heights Councilman Herb Hupp reiterated the point, saying, “The road is all we proposed. That’s it. No property.”

Lee said if the village intends to annex more, “I will resign because I have been lied to.”

Hornick said the village wants to annex the area so it may provide police coverage there. She said there have been incidents of vandalism near the Short Creek post office, and speeding has been an issue on state Route 2 and Airport Road.

Short Creek resident Kathryn Skidmore said the village police should also patrol Short Creek Road because there is a lot of speeding there.

But some have criticized village officials, saying they intend to create a “speed trap” to generate fines to support its police department. A few residents suggested the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department or West Virginia State Police can enforce speed limits in the area.

Lee said, “The law is the law, whether State Police, the sheriff’s department or (neighboring) Beech Bottom or Windsor Heights police enforces it. If people are speeding, they should be stopped.”

Hornick said speeding fines wouldn’t support the department.

Village Recorder Linda Stuckey said the part-time department of five officers is supported by state revenue from limited video lottery casinos shared with municipalities, adding its police cruiser was purchased with a $10,000 state grant.

In an earlier interview, Windsor Heights Police Chief Ulrich Utt said extending the department’s coverage area to include state Route 2 would make it more eligble for grants aimed at targeting drunk drivers and other violations.

Lambros Tsuhlares, who lives near the Short Creek post office, said he stays up late and hasn’t seen any criminal activity there.

Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson said he welcomes the help of Windsor Heights Police but questioned why Windsor Heights residents wouldn’t want to keep their police department on the hilltop near their homes.

Asked his opinion, he said, “If it’s for increased (police) protection, I’m 100 percent for it. If it’s for a speed trap, I’m 100 percent against it.”

The commission also heard Tuesday from Alfred Rocchio Jr. of Colliers, who said he’s concerned about pitbull terriers owned by a neighbor that got free and attacked another dog being walked by a woman on their street.

According to the sheriff’s department, the other dog survived the attack but required medical treatment. The owner has been cited for violating the county’s leash law.

Rocchio said the dogs have roamed free on more than one occasion, and as the father of two small children, he’s concerned another attack will occur.

County Commissioner Jim Andreozzi, the county’s former dog warden, said the dogs may be seized if they are in the habit of attacking people or other animals.

Jackson said his department will seize the dogs if they are loose again, and he suggested Rocchio and others who see them loose report it.