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Mineral County Commissioners questioned on validity of plan

A threatened lawsuit and claims that the county has not followed proper procedure in crafting its updated 10-Year Comprehensive Plan sparked a heated exchange this week between Mineral County Commission President Wayne Spiggle and attorney Jack Barr.

Keyser, W.Va. - A threatened lawsuit and claims that the county has not followed proper procedure in crafting its updated 10-Year Comprehensive Plan sparked a heated exchange this week between Mineral County Commission President Wayne Spiggle and attorney Jack Barr.

Barr, who said he was appearing before the commissioners on his own, was accompanied to the meeting by Jim Cookman of U.S. Windforce, who also expressed his concern over the way the plan was approved by the Mineral County Planning Commission without the inclusion of input from the wind company.

According to Barr, the planning commission did not officially adopt the West Virginia Open Meetings Law and every action they have taken, therefore, is invalid.

He also said the conclusion of the public comment period for the comprehensive plan was unclear and the written comments from U.S. Windforce should have been included in the final draft presented to the county commissioners on Tuesday.

According to Cookman, he had offered several comments and/or concerns to planning commission chairman Clyde Burdock, but those comments "were not reflected in further versions of the plan."

He then... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Keyser, W.Va. - A threatened lawsuit and claims that the county has not followed proper procedure in crafting its updated 10-Year Comprehensive Plan sparked a heated exchange this week between Mineral County Commission President Wayne Spiggle and attorney Jack Barr.

Barr, who said he was appearing before the commissioners on his own, was accompanied to the meeting by Jim Cookman of U.S. Windforce, who also expressed his concern over the way the plan was approved by the Mineral County Planning Commission without the inclusion of input from the wind company.

According to Barr, the planning commission did not officially adopt the West Virginia Open Meetings Law and every action they have taken, therefore, is invalid.

He also said the conclusion of the public comment period for the comprehensive plan was unclear and the written comments from U.S. Windforce should have been included in the final draft presented to the county commissioners on Tuesday.

According to Cookman, he had offered several comments and/or concerns to planning commission chairman Clyde Burdock, but those comments "were not reflected in further versions of the plan."

He then submitted his comments electronically to Burdock, and also presented hard copies to the members of the planning commission.

One planning commission member, however, "took the position that the comment period was closed," and would not include them in the final draft of the plan, Cookman said.

"It was closed without any prior notification that it had been closed," he said.
A request for a copy of the draft was submitted through the Freedom of Information Act, but according to Barr, that request has not yet been honored.

"It is our position that the planning commission has approved a document the final version of which all members have not seen," Cookman said.
Barr agreed.

"You do not have a valid comprehensive plan before you today; it was never properly adopted by the planning commission," he told the commissioners.
"The only choice you have is to refer it back to the planning commission. Anything beyond that is going to force us to go to court."

"I take that as a threat," Spiggle said, asking Barr if he were acting on his own or on behalf of U.S. Windforce.

"I'm speaking on my own," he said.

Barr told the commissioners he had been telling members of the planning commission "for four months that they haven't been following the law," and "even if the public hearings were valid, the adoption of the plan was not valid.

"They know what the law is and they're apparently ignoring it."

When Spiggle commented that he "regretted the adversarial nature" of the disagreement, Cookman told him "this is not in any way intended to be adversarial.

"We would just like to make sure our concerns are vetted. ... and the planning commission is in compliance with the West Virginia Open Meetings Act."

"Well it's news to me that when someone says, 'we're going to court,' that it's not adversarial," Spiggle said.

"It is adversarial ... period. And I regret that very much."

When Cookman noted that, according to Barr, any action taken by the planning commission would be invalid, Commissioner Janice LaRue asked him, "How far back are we talking?

"You actually want us to take it back to where you can submit your suggestions?"

When County Planner Scott Clay noted that there were "opportunities all the way along to make comments," LaRue asked Cookman, "Why would you have waited to make comments until the night they were going to adopt the plan?"

"It was closed without prior notification that it had been closed," Cookman said.

The discussion left the commissioners with uncertainty as to which direction to turn.

"Can we accept this plan?" LaRue asked. "I don't want to go to court."


Source: http://www.newstribune.info...

AUG 13 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27728-mineral-county-commissioners-questioned-on-validity-of-plan
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