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Commission ponders UGB

By Staff | Mar 25, 2011

The Shepherdstown Planning Commission met on Monday, and commissioners took care of new and continuing business. One item the group has grappled with since November is determining the town’s urban growth boundary (UGB).

With a map in hand from the town’s water and sewer board of the current and future service areas, commissioners worry about setting the boundary and sending the wrong message to the town’s citizens as well as what it means for the municipality’s relationship with the county.

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Jim Auxer said he sees the UGB expanding beyond the town’s service area.

“I’m thinking about the future,” he said.

Auxer noted that the UGB can change, and he also volunteered to draft a boundary map for the April meeting.

Other commissioners voiced their opinions about what defining a UGB would mean for the town.

“The most logical reason for drawing the line where it is right now is because it came from water and sewer and there were good arguments presented there for how we would service those areas,” Commissioner Bane Schill said about setting the UGB around the water and sewer line’s area. “There might be some zigs and zags and some tweaks around the edges.”

Commission President Josh Stella, though he stressed the importance of a UGB to the group when he assumed the position of president in the fall, said there are “bookend” opinions about the issue now, and he may have one of them.

In an email sent to the commission on Nov. 16, 2010, Stella proposed 2011 goals for the commission. As far as a UGB, he saw it at the time as a “major issue for the town and has some urgency.”

“This could be a powerful tool for our future and we have a window of opportunity to craft our proposal effectively,” he stated in the email.

At Monday’s meeting, though, Stella spoke candidly about what it meant for Shepherdstown.

“I don’t think it means that much because it has very little weight,” he said. “So I think it’s a line that the state legislature said we have to draw, but it doesn’t really empower us at all; it only restricts us.”

A restriction Stella was referring to is the difficulty to annex outside of the UGB.

Stella believes the UGB has little to do with the town’s planning and falls more in line with county plans.

“It has to do with limiting us,” he said. “It’s putting a box around what we could do.”

Commissioner David Rosen asked if going big with the UGB was the right thing to do.

“In that theory we would want to go big,” Stella said. “Though the counter argument to that is that there’s some kind of a message to the town residents that we intend to get that big.”

The commission decided to have a discussion about a UGB map at its April meeting and then have a public hearing later.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the planning commission addressed adding and renewing members’ terms.

The present commissioners voted to recommend to town council Theresa Trainor to fill a vacancy on the commission.

According to her biography, Shepherdstown resident Trainor currently serves as director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Eastern Development Center where she oversees career education and development for national government leaders. She also has 22 years of federal, academic and nonprofit experience and has worked as a facilitator, mediator, coach and trainer.

The commission also approved for Karene Motivans and Rosen, whose terms will be up in June, to serve for another three years, and approved Chris Stroech as the group’s vice president.