Work on the draft Monongalia County Housing Development Ordinance continues

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The development of the Monongalia County Housing Development Ordinance has been an evolutionary process which appears to be heading next for review by the Planning Commission.

Sean Sikora

Monongalia County Commissioner Sean Sikora said they were trying to strike a balance between smart development and robust growth. The debate on a draft ordinance has been going on since the 1960s.

“How do we figure out what we can do that would put in place some sort of common-sense advice, but that is not so restrictive that it slows down economic development, eliminates it, or drives it somewhere else,” Sikora said.

Monongalia County Planning Director Andrew Gast-Bray has incorporated developer and landowner input into the current proposal over the past few months. Sikora said he wants the planning commission to review the proposed additional changes before it is returned to the public for further comment.

“We’ll post it and let people review it, it’s not a formal process, but give them time to review it,” Sikora said. “Then we will plan a series of committee meetings where people can come and give us their opinion.”

A lack of consensus among landowners, developers and elected officials over the years has stalled the effort. But new developments have underscored the importance of managing growing circulation and drainage problems.

“The developers, who when I came to the commission said you can’t do this, now say it’s smart and we need to move on,” Sikora said.

Sikora said the Monongalia County Orphan Roads Grant Program is a prime example of the importance of development management. Last year, the commission approved more than $100,000 to help relatives of homeowners when access to the property was threatened by an abandoned road. The problems could have been avoided if regulations had been in place when the area was developed.

“We fix things in the background, but we want to be proactive and fix things up front in the future, so in 30 years we won’t need our orphan road program anymore because we’ve planned right way,” Sikora said.

No public review schedule has been set.

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