Nineteen pages of photos of Alderson’s assets and challenges submitted by residents formed the basis of an open discussion led by Lead Land Use Attorney Jesse Richardson during the Alderson Municipal Planning Commission (AMPC) meeting on Thursday evening, Sept. 5.
Richardson was introduced by AMPC President Fawn Valentine and represents the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law (LUSD) Clinic of the WVU College of Law. The Clinic was established recently to provide legal services to local governments, landowners and non-profit organizations seeking to develop land conservation strategies and practices. It also provides technical assistance to local government officials, planners and other land use decision makers to encourage sustainable development. Among other things, it works with communities to draft comprehensive land use plans and this was the purpose of the meeting with the AMPC and other Alderson residents.
Although the Town of Alderson has had a comprehensive plan since 1970, the current plan must be updated to comply with West Virginia State Code by 2014 – ten years after the West Virginia Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law new requirements for comprehensive plans.
AMPC President Valentine said, “Writing a new comprehensive plan and complying with the code is a daunting task for a local planning commission. We are so thankful to have the help of the LUSD Clinic.”
As Planning Commission members and the audience reviewed the photos of assets and challenges, Richardson summed up the process as determining, “Where we are; where we want to go; and how we get there.”
Alderson resident Doris Kasley chimed in to say, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. We need to know which road we want to take.”
Assets such as Alderson’s many parks; its excellent elementary school; affordable housing; the Saturday Community Market; the good works of the Alderson Ministerial Association and other civic groups; the natural beauty of the mountains and the Greenbrier River; access to broadband services; and more were identified.
A significant challenge, as identified by Mayor Travis Copenhaver, is the ageing infrastructure of the town including the water, sewer and storm water systems. He said, “Our recent initiative to replace the water meters is only one step toward improving our infrastructure. We have much more to do.” Other people identified dilapidated houses; junk around houses and on properties including old cars; fecal coliform and other pollutants in the Greenbrier River; the need for more amenities; and space to grow as some of the challenges.
Richardson presented three types of comprehensive plans, each of which meet the WV Code requirements, for the AMPC to consider. Sam McClung said, “I like the ‘needs based’ one best. The others seem too daunting to me.” Richardson also presented a draft vision statement which received a lot of comments.
The next public information meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of the Alderson Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Everyone who is concerned about the future of Alderson is invited to come and receive more information about the comprehensive plan development process as well as make their opinions known. Mayor Copenhaver said, “This is an opportunity for all citizens of Alderson to have input and become involved. I hope we have a huge turnout.”