Spa City passes ordinance to create planning commission

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The White Sulphur Springs City Council has taken a new step toward codifying its building standards.

On Monday night, during its regular meeting, council approved the second, final reading of an ordinance authorizing the creation of  a municipal planning commission.

Before the vote, the council was briefed by West Virginia University associate law professor Jesse Richardson, a land use attorney, who advised that without a planning commission, and a 10-year comprehensive plan, any zoning ordinances the city enacts are unenforceable.

Calling a comprehensive plan a “vision for the community’s future” and a “blueprint” rather than a law, Richardson said that such a plan will not only help solidify the community’s hopes for White Sulphur’s future, but allow them to apply for grant funding that would otherwise be unavailable.

Richardson said that the WVU Law Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic advises that the ideal number of people to sit on a municipal planning commission is five members: enough for a quorum but not too unwieldy. He stated that planning commissions can have as few as three members and as many as nine. However, he advised that the council be prudent in its selection of members – the WVU Law Clinic is going to attend the meetings and advise the commission at no cost, he said, so members must be present and not waste the law clinic’s time and travel miles.

Council member and planning and zoning committee chair Mark Gillespie abstained from the vote, but the ordinance passed unanimously. Gillespie asked Richardson how long it would take to create a comprehensive plan. Richardson advised that it would likely take 12-18 months to do.

In other business, council discussed the upcoming Celebration of Life to be held the weekend of June 23, the one-year anniversary of the deadly flood that swept through White Sulphur Springs.

Gillespie announced that on Friday, June 23, at 3:30 p.m., the flood memorial, located behind the Old Mill Boiler House in Old Mill Park, will be officially dedicated. Next, there will be a reading of the names of those who died in the flood. The day will culminate in the dedication of the Brad Paisley Community Park, named after the country music singer who donated funds to flood victims, and a picnic.

Saturday will be Family Day, said Gillespie. Activities will be held in the parking lot of Old White Motors and will include coping assistance for child flood survivors, and lots of fun too: a fighter jet climbing wall will be on hand, along with other kid-friendly activities, all at no cost. The afternoon events conclude at 2 p.m. But later, an evening concert – a kick off of the Summer Concert Series – will be held behind 50 East and Midland Trail Park.

On Sunday, area churches will host a nondenominational worship service in Brad Paisley Park.

Also, briefly:

  • The annual Dandelion Festival returns to downtown May 26-28.
  • The new White Sulphur Springs Farmer’s Market is scheduled to open June 8 in Midland Trail Park.
  • The community garden is at over half-capacity, and Main Street White Sulphur Springs is seeking more would-be gardeners.
  • After its 2017 debut at the Celebration of Life, the Summer Music Series will be held at Old Mill Park on July 16 and 30, Aug. 20 and Sept. 10.
  • City Hall will be closed on Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day. Monday garbage pick-up will be delayed until Tuesday.