Planning board considers waivers, permits & tower
The Morgan County Planning Commission granted two waivers and approved a request to replace an internet communications tower at its April 22 meeting.
The planners granted a minor waiver and final plat approval to Gary Duckwall for a 2.4 acre property he owns at the northwest corner of the intersection of Sphors and Duckwall roads.
The commission also approved subdividing a lot owned by Jacob Bernhard on Wiggins Road, Great Cacapon.
The lot is physically divided by Wiggins Road with about a third of an acre on one side of the road and a half acre on the opposite side.
A dwelling with separate well and sewer connection already exists on each parcel. The commission approved the subdivision.
An application for a commercial building permit for the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aries was tabled until the May meeting to give the Eagles more time to complete an engineering study.
The Eagles want to build a 100' by 60' building with a surrounding parking area along U.S. 522 across from the Dairy Queen.
Morgan County Planner Alma Gorse presented a letter from Emmett Capper, president of SkyWeb, an internet service provider. Capper is applying for a permit to replace a tower on Winchester Grade Road.
The tower is 95 ft. high and located 10 miles out Winchester Grade Road from U.S. 522.
Capper wants to build a replacement tower approximately 50 yards north of the existing tower on an adjacent property owned by Neil and Tracy Beahm.
Capper said it is an emergency and, without the replacement tower, residents and businesses would lose internet communications for an extended period of time.
Planning board member Tommy Swaim wanted to know more about the situation and would like to see the land owners appear before the commission.
Because Capper's letter was unclear on one point, a discussion followed concerning whether the existing tower would be removed after the new tower was installed.
Gorse thought the tower was just being moved. Responding to a question, she noted the county does not have a tower ordinance.
We don't have any ability to address towers except for reasons of health or safety, President Jack Soronen advised commission members.
Though the planning commission has no jurisdiction, Soronen has requested all tower applications be presented to them for review and comment.
Scott Swaim moved to grant approval of the tower replacement with the expectation that the original tower be removed.
The motion was seconded and approved.
Carl Cowgill and Scott Swaim updated the commission on the progress of the Land Use Advisory Committee.
Both agreed the first three meetings were educational as guest speakers familiarized committee members with existing land use ordinances and state laws.
Swaim said the committee would now start discussing specific land use issues.
Whether you want to develop or stop development in Morgan County, you have to realize that we are still a rural West Virginia county, Wayne Omps said.
Omps said that only five percent of the county is developed.
84% of the county is forested, Tommy Swaim added.
Soronen said any concepts or ideas developed by the committee for protection of water or land would have to be applied uniformly across the county.
County Planner Gorse said Attorney Richard Gay was the low bidder on a job to review and suggest changes to the county's sub-division ordinance.
Gorse recently talked to Gay about the ordinance and he suggested presenting his suggestions orally before both the Morgan County Commission and the planning commission.
Gorse said Gay would talk to County Commission President Glen Stotler about arranging a meeting.