I attended a candidate's forum for the Jefferson County Commission race and listened to candidates Pellish, Taylor and Dunleavy last Monday night in Shepherdstown. Pellish and Taylor spoke in generalities, offering no specifics about how they would attract businesses and bring "jobs, jobs, jobs" to Jefferson County. Dunleavy offered four very specific programs that would create and attract jobs to the county.
At the same time, both Taylor and particularly Pellish denounced the 2009 proposed County Zoning Ordinance, with Pellish claiming the old, reinstated Zoning Ordinance we now have is just fine and needs no improving. It's clear that Pellish and Taylor don't understand either ordinance.
The major reason why Jefferson County has actually repelled businesses and jobs for years is that the old, now current, zoning ordinance repels businesses because it results in treeless, suburban sprawl neighborhoods that no one wants to live in and now stand partially empty. It enforces the separation of commercial from residential zones, which encourages the building of Walmart's and other national chains in malls. You have to drive for miles just to buy a loaf of bread.
Dunleavy wants to introduce the Village Section of the 2009 Zoning Ordinance, the Zoning Ordinance that Pellish and Taylor trash. The Village Section was, in fact, designed to attract businesses and residences by creating villages that mix businesses and residences rather than separating them. In a walkable radius, you have stores, restaurants, churches, doctors, etc., mixed in with small, compact residential clusters that include a mix of building types such as single-family homes, town houses, apartments and 10 percent affordable housing.
You walk; you don't have to drive; you get to know your neighbors - just like a historic town. The Village Section would have permitted a compact main street with "live-work" businesses below and apartments above, as in downtown Charles Town, Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown. "Live-work" is what attracts people who work from home by computer. It is the "new" economy. The ordinance that Pellish and Taylor favor repels "the new economy."
Dunleavy favors rescinding the Rural Section and the Development Review System of the current Ordinance and replacing it the AG Section of the proposed Zoning Ordinance which would have clustered business and residences next to existing villages. The surrounding farms and open land were protected from destructive sprawl. Farmers would have been allowed to start new businesses and create jobs on their farms. The current law Pellish and Taylor favor prohibits new farm businesses and jobs.
The only candidate who supports sections of the proposed Zoning Ordinance as an economic growth stimulus is Ed Dunleavy. He proposed bringing back its most powerful business-attracting provisions - a sensible idea immediately scolded by Taylor.
We cannot entrust the future of our county to men like Pellish or Taylor. They will lead us backward, claiming to seek economic growth, while supporting antiquated zoning that stifles it.
Please vote for Ed Dunleavy and Jefferson County will have a bright future.