Wellsburg board seeks plan input

WELLSBURG – The Wellsburg Planning Commission is working with law students at West Virginia University to develop a plan for development and is seeking input from the public.

The planning commission and Jared Anderson, a professor with WVU’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, will answer questions and hear comments at an open house to be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Wellsburg Salvation Army headquarters at 401 Commerce St. (state Route 2).

Mayor Sue Simonetti said the planning commission also will hold its regular meeting there at 5:30 p.m., and the public also is welcome to attend it. Chaired by 2nd Ward Councilman Brian Tennant, the board normally meets at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month at Wellsburg City Hall.

She said the Salvation Army headquarters was deemed to have more space and is handicap-accessible.

Anderson said aside from a short introduction, he and others involved with the plan will meet with visitors one to one at several stations set up for the event so visitors may stop by at any time during the 90 minutes.

Simonetti noted the planning commission has teamed with Anderson and law students with the clinic to develop a comprehensive plan outlining areas with potential for development and infrastructure, utilities and other elements needed to accommodate that.

Under state law, all municipalities with zoning codes must adopt a comprehensive plan by July 1.

Anderson said the plan shouldn’t be confused with zoning as it doesn’t limit use of land, including private development.

But it will identify potential areas for development, including businesses and housing, and steps that must be taken to support that.

Anderson said a public hearing will be held before the plan is presented for Wellsburg Council’s approval.

He acknowledged the group is working under a tight deadline because meetings with the planning commission were canceled because of the inclement weather.

Anderson said through federal funding, the clinic has helped 15 other counties and municipalities to develop comprehensive plans.

The clinic also will be working with the city’s urban redevelopment authority to establish a redevelopment plan involving the acquisition and rehabilitation of unused property for new development.

The urban development authority has applied for a $200,000 federal grant to conduct environmental assessments of brownfields in the city.

Brownfields are former industrial and business sites whose future use is hindered by perceived or real contamination problems.