Billboard ban extended until August 31
At their June 1 meeting, the Morgan County Commission unanimously voted to extend its ban on new off-premise billboards along the Washington Heritage Trail for three months. The ban will be in effect from June 1 until August 31.
The county's previous six-month ban on billboards along the trail expired May 31. The original six month ban on new off-premise billboards was enacted in May, 2006 and was extended in November, 2006.
Jeanne Mozier, who represents the George Washington Heritage Trail, said that she had found new information on segmentation and requested the three-month extension to continue her research. The extension would also give the county time to continue its legal research on the issue.
Mozier had expressed hopes at recent County Commission meetings of finding a federal ruling that protected all scenic byways from large commercial billboards so to avoid any zoning issues.
The Washington Heritage Trail, which is a nationally designated scenic byway, does not include the northern corridor of U.S. 522 and other portions of the highway.
The Morgan County portion of the George Washington Trail runs from Route 9 East at the Berkeley County line to Berkeley Springs and extends along Route 9 West to Paw Paw. It also crosses Cold Run Valley, travels along Rock Gap Road to U.S. 522 South and goes south along U.S. Route 522 to Fish Hatchery Road.
Commission President Glen Stotler felt they should continue the billboard ban "until we have all the answers."
Commissioner Brenda Hutch-inson made the motion to continue the present moratorium on off-premise billboards along the Washington Heritage Trail so Mozier and the County Commission could continue their research.
Commissioner Tommy Swaim seconded the motion, stating that the real issue was banning billboards along scenic byways. Swaim said he was concerned about zoning and did not want to ban billboards across the county.