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Cities Seek Public Input In Comprehensive Plan Creation

February 28, 2013
By J.W. JOHNSON JR. - Marshall County Bureau Chief , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MOUNDSVILLE - Two local cities are taking similar approaches to providing a new direction for their comprehensive plans, reaching out to members of their respective communities for insight into what the future holds.

The comprehensive plan, which municipalities in West Virginia are required by law to have, must be updated by the end of 2014 due to a state Legislature law passed in 2004 requiring an update every 10 years.

In Wheeling, the most recent plan was introduced in 1997.

As the city begins the process of creating the new plan, officials are seeking interested parties to apply for an additional four to six positions on the Wheeling Planning Commission's committee that is working on the update.

More than 30 residents answered the request, offering their insights and hoping to provide input as the creation of the plan continues.

After receiving applications from several out-of-town residents - as well as some high school students under the age of 18 - officials chose to restrict membership to those at least 18 years old who reside in city limits.

Those not chosen will still be able to provide input, officials said, as public forums and other survey measures will be implemented over the 18-month planning period. Officials have stated they will hire a professional consultant to help in the creation of the plan, though a cost of the overall project is not yet known.

In Moundsville, while public input is the basis for the creation of the city's first comprehensive plan in 30 years, the city hoped to limit the cost by teaming with students from West Virginia University.

Students taking public administration courses at WVU are working on the project as part of their class requirements, making several trips to Moundsville over the past year and creating a board of "stakeholders" in the community to assist and provide feedback.

After initial meetings and reviews of all aspects of the city, including its services, businesses and public offices, a survey featuring 13 categories was created and made available for public input. Hundreds of responses were received, with the results showing disagreement among the population of what the focus of the next 10 years should be for the city.

Research also showed 30 percent of Moundsville's population is over 60 years old, which was cited as a potential positive for the city, as many of those residents are retired and expressed interest in volunteer ventures.

Other data will be made available to the stakeholder group, which will then assist in creating the comprehensive plan.

City officials said they are hopeful the outside viewpoints of the WVU students bring fresh ideas to the city and the plan. The plan is expected to be completed by spring of next year.

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