Editor’s note: This story was updated on April 12 to correct a statement that the DNR had not advertised this Public Hearing. That was incorrect. The DNR did place a legal ad about the Public Hearing in The Martinsburg Journal.
by Kate Shunney
A spokesman for the West Virginia State Parks system announced via press release last month that a public hearing would be held on Tuesday, April 18 at Cacapon State Park on three private RV campground proposals submitted for the local park.
The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. and be held at the Washington Fairfax Room in the park’s conference center, said state officials in an online announcement.
While the meeting date and time have been widely shared as park supporters and county residents react to the RV campground ideas, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), which oversees the State Parks system, has not advertised the meeting as an official Public Hearing in this newspaper.
A law passed last year by the West Virginia Legislature that allows partnerships of private development inside West Virginia State Parks requires a specific step in the consideration of such proposals. HB 4408 says notice of a public hearing must be provided as a Class II legal advertisement 20 days prior to the hearing.
The law states: “Prior to initiating a contract for new recreational, lodging, and ancillary facilities at all state parks and state forests under the jurisdiction of the Division of Natural Resources, the director shall conduct a public hearing to be held at a reasonable time and place within the county in which the facility is located. Notice of the time, place and purpose of the public hearing shall be provided as a Class II legal advertisement in accordance with 59-3-2 of this code which notice shall be given at least for the first publication 20 days in advance of the hearing.”
A Class II legal advertisement would run twice in a newspaper of record in the area where the hearing will be held. The Morgan Messenger had not received any legal advertisement from the DNR regarding the April 18 meeting at press time.
State park officials did not respond to a request for more information about the public notice requirement.
After this story went to print, an inquiry about the legal advertisement uncovered that the DNR had placed an ad that would meet the legal requirement in The Martinsburg Journal.