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How fear drives bad decision making

December 16, 2011
Peter Corum, Shepherdstown , Shepherdstown Chronicle

Only in Jefferson County could a developer requests the highest levels of regulation and its planning staff recommend the least restrictive zoning classification (Conditional Use Permit, CUP). A CUP doesn't provide the public what they asked for the predictability of future uses and guaranteed future public involvement.

This whole process started with my dream of building a sustainable community, which has evolved to putting Morgan's Grove Market under roof. Our current zoning, Agriculture, does not allow us to build this structure. We all know the county's zoning ordinance and classification names are a mess. After indepth research and five years of listening to concerned citizens, we came to the conclusion that the county's most restrictive zoning classification, Commercial/Industrial, would best address the stated concerns of our neighbors: Future Uses, Public Notifications, No Housing, Traffic and Watershed.

We all know the visual image created when you say the word Industrial; however, we showed how set-backs would prohibit the use of any Heavy Industrial uses and how mandatory public hearings on all future structures constructed would prevent unwanted uses, as evidenced by the current activism. The remaining "Industrial" uses (think cottage industries) would have been no different than what is allowed under all zoning classifications and CUPs. The new classification would have triggered the most restrictive environmental guidelines, off site issue mitigation and public input.

So, because a few individuals projected their own fears and lack of knowledge of the zoning ordinances, they left the property and neighbors unprotected as evidenced by the previously approved CUPs - 74 townhomes, 54 townhomes, 34 townhomes plus 30,000 sqft of commercial. Our community needs brave leaders who are willing to engage all parties, without fear and bias, in order to come to a collaborative solution or we'll continue West Virginia's history of missing opportunities.

 
 

 

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