To Our Readers — There’s a lot of dirt moving around in Jefferson County — not all of it according to plan. Route 340 is finally being widened south of Charles Town (images above and below) and the construction of new homes continues to tick up dramatically. There is still a lot of open space and active farmland in the county, but many residents have concerns.
Last December, the County Commission heard from citizens asking if the Planning Commission had violated the WV Open Meetings Act with a sub-committee that met in private to draft the solar zoning. During January 24th’s Planning Commission meeting, County attorney Nathan Cochran ran through a lengthy series of questions with the commissioners. Many of the questions focused on whether any deliberation occurred during the sub-committee meetings.
One question not asked was whether sufficient deliberation had occurred at the meetings that took place in 2020-2022, when the solar zoning was approved. That’s one of the issues raised in court cases challenging the validity of the solar zoning, two of which are still ongoing. County residents are also asking why the first solar project has diverged from the sunny picture painted during the two and a half years it took to update the ordinance.
Looking back at the Planning Commission minutes from a decade ago, there are numerous examples of citizen committees appointed to assist with drafting zoning amendments. Adding more voices at the table might slow things down a bit, but it might help draft a better roadmap to guide the growth ahead.By Steve Pearson