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Zoning forum slated

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

The wording on the sample ballot above refers to the non-traditional ordinance that the county has used for the past several years and the new traditional ordinance, which was adopted by the county Oct. 2, 2008. Early voting begins today. The special election is slated Nov. 7.

Starting today, Jefferson County voters decide whether to replace the non-traditional zoning and development review ordinance with the new, traditional zoning ordinance adopted by the County Commission Oct. 2, 2008.

Early voting has begun. The special election is Nov. 7. The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County will hold a public forum on the new county zoning ordinance in the Jefferson High School Auditorium at 7 p.m., Oct. 19.

The purpose of the forum is to educate voters before the referendum, organizers said.

“We looked around … and at the time (the forum idea first came up) there was nobody doing anything to educate the public,” said League of Women Voters Vice President Ruth McQuade, of Shepherdstown. “That’s the League’s mission … (to ensure) an informed electorate.”

Groups will meet to discuss the ordinances (new and current) with respect to how each affects open space/density, environment, historic preservation, affordable housing and transparency. Those who attend the forum may choose one particular subject or sit in with each of the groups. Each discussion group will include a League member facilitator.

“Resource people” familiar with the current and proposed zoning documents will answer voters’ questions. Those who have agreed to serve in that capacity include: Cam Tabb, John Allen, Barbara Humes, John Maxey, Tom Trumble, Joe Thompson, Walter Washington, Annette Van Hilst, Brian Everhart, Paul Burke, and possibly one or two others.

Jennifer Brockman, Director, Dept. of Planning & Zoning also will respond to questions.

“We just thought there was a need … to present balanced information,” McQuade said.

Ann Coulter, who serves as co-chairwoman of the forum with McQuade, emphasized that none of the participants will be taking any stance on the zoning question during the forum, nor has the League of Women Voters.

“They’re not advocates, they’re there as resource people,” Coulter said. “(The forum) is really an information opportunity for people.”

Coulter also noted that may Jefferson County residents don’t realize they’re not eligible to vote on the zoning question. Anyone who lives within a municipal boundary or annexed area cannot vote.

According to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office, “Any voters that normally vote in the following precincts are ineligible and the polling places will NOT be open on Election Day:”

Precinct 2: Wright Denny Elementary

Precinct 3: Charles Town Baptist Church

Precinct 6: Senior Center

Precinct 7: Ranson Elementary School

Precinct 14: Camp Hill Wesley Church

Precinct 15: Harpers Ferry Middle School

Precinct 33: Shepherdstown War Memorial Building

For a complete list of all annexed areas NOT eligible to vote, see jeffersoncountyclerkwv.com

– Information about voter eligibility for the referendum is available at http://jeffersoncountyclerkwv.com. Early voting is possible through Nov. 3.