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Commission, community have spoken on zoning

By Staff | Dec 16, 2011

Well, the Jefferson County Commission and our community have spoken. The Dec. 8 unanimous vote resolutely to deny the request to rezone the property adjacent to Morgan’s Grove Park from rural to commercial -industrial was reassuring on two important points: (1) that we do have a viable and credible County zoning policy, and (2) that our Commissioners take their work seriously and listen to what the community is saying. In dealing with such critical matters often how you get there is as important as the end result. This was certainly the case when the commissioners rejected the recommendation of the Planning Commission and listened to their professional staff. We achieved this outcome only because;

Individual property owners, community organizations, the Corporation of Shepherdstown, and the general public that would be impacted by the decision did their homework and spoke up.

The Shepherdstown Planning Commission held a well attended pubic hearing, took an appropriate position and communicated that along with strong endorsement to the Commissioners.

The local media, particularly The Chronicle, provided balanced and helpful coverage explaining what was at stake and sharing people’s concerns.

Commissioners Widmyer and Morgan fought hard to prevent hasty action and were joined by Dale Manuel to ensure that there would be a public hearing before a final decision was taken.

Our Shepherdstown representative, Walt Pellish made the extra effort to reach out on his own to gather information and had the courage to reverse his earlier position and vote for denial.

The approach taken, by the Commissioners and the concerned public was to clearly examine the significant difference between what the petitioners said they wanted to accomplish and the excessive zone that they were requesting.

The developers were left with a more reasonable use of the property, working within the existing rural classification and assisted by the County Planners that could be accepted and supported by the community.

The whole process was an exemplary case study in civic involvement and good government and we are proud to have been a part of it. We hope that the developers will accept this outcome and work with us in good faith to help local farm families, boost the local economy, and preserve this historic recreational and residential area for future generations.