2017-03-15 / Front Page

Town releases Comp Plan draft

by Trish Rudder

A comprehensive plan for the Town of Bath’s future was presented at its first hearing at town hall on Monday, March 6.

The town’s planning committee president Rebecca MacLeod and vice president Larry Lower made the presentation.

The purpose of the plan, Lower said, is to identify the type of future development for the Town of Bath with “considerations that support the plan.”

According to W.Va. Code, a comprehensive plan “must promote the health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity, and general welfare of the inhabitants.”

The plan is for the municipal area only, Lower said, and all else is in the county’s comprehensive plan.

Lower noted that there is “a lack of perception” of what the town’s boundaries are.

The plan states that to develop a plan for the Town of Bath it must first require acknowledging “the uniqueness of the town within the surrounding environment.”

“It is a reference document containing community information, identified needs and existing capacity, and serves as a road map for decisions and actions regarding the future of the community,” the plan states.

The document is not intended to provide specific solutions for the identified specific concerns, according to the plan.

It suggests community leaders can join forces to work for public-private solutions to economic challenges “if a common vision can be defined.”

According to W.Va. Code, the plan must be updated every 10 years, Lower said.

The last comprehensive plan the town had was in the 1980s, Lower had said, so the committee had to start with a new plan.

The planning committee had brainstorming sessions first, Lower said, and then the committee held a series of listening sessions and came up with four major categories.

Goals

Improving conditions for Economic Development is the first of the plan’s four major goals.

“Economic development is the foundation,” MacLeod said. “It is the cornerstone.”

Three other goals are to:

Enhance Community Safety, Health and Welfare;

Engage, support and expand partnerships with organizations that improve Social Services and Supportive Physical Facilities; and

Promote Berkeley Springs as a Sense of Place.

“Berkeley Springs is a special place,” MacLeod said, and its residents who participated in the 2014 survey, “feel Berkeley Springs is a sense of home and is the strength of the community.”

Editing suggestions noted

About 12 people attended the meeting including business owners and town council and Bath Development Authority (BDA) members.

A few editing suggestions were recommended and will be made to this first draft, which Lower made note of.

The town “needs to review the plan twice a year,” MacLeod said.

“The plan needs to be pulled off the shelf to continually address the needs of the town’s comprehensive plan,” Lower said.

Next steps

The comprehensive plan will be presented to the town council on March 21, Lower said.

On May 2, the second and final hearing to the public will be held before the town council meeting begins, it was decided by the council members at the March 7 meeting.

The draft comprehensive plan can be viewed on the town’s website or a copy can be purchased at town hall, town clerk Deb Peck had said.

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