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Mineral commission punts on comprehensive plan vote

Wind Force had attempted to submit written comments and a full markup of the plan to the planning commission approximately one month after a public meeting held in June to collect public comment on the document. The planning commission refused to consider the Wind Force comments, stating that the comment period had closed.

With planning process drawing fire, officials vote 2-1 to head back to drawing board

KEYSER, W.Va. - The Mineral County Comprehensive Plan is, once again, headed back to the drawing board.

OnTuesday the Mineral County Commission, faced with the threat of a lawsuit, declined to consider the plan and instead voted 2-1 in favor of sending it back to the planning commission for another round of public comment and possible changes.

Commissioners Janice LaRue and Cindy Pyles both spoke strongly in favor of returning the plan, while commission President Wayne Spiggle argued against the move.

The plan was left hanging in limbo in the last county commission meeting on Aug. 10, when U.S. Wind Force executive Jim Cookman and WindForce attorney Jack Barr objected strongly to aspects of the planning process. Wind Force is the developer of the Pinnacle wind power project, a 23-turbine facility planned for atop Green Mountain near Keyser.

LaRue said she feared the county would face "a cloud over this plan" if the process moved forward despite the objections.

"We've worked very hard for almost three years now, and now we have a procedural problem that could very readily be... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

With planning process drawing fire, officials vote 2-1 to head back to drawing board

KEYSER, W.Va. - The Mineral County Comprehensive Plan is, once again, headed back to the drawing board.

On Tuesday the Mineral County Commission, faced with the threat of a lawsuit, declined to consider the plan and instead voted 2-1 in favor of sending it back to the planning commission for another round of public comment and possible changes.

Commissioners Janice LaRue and Cindy Pyles both spoke strongly in favor of returning the plan, while commission President Wayne Spiggle argued against the move.

The plan was left hanging in limbo in the last county commission meeting on Aug. 10, when U.S. Wind Force executive Jim Cookman and Wind Force attorney Jack Barr objected strongly to aspects of the planning process. Wind Force is the developer of the Pinnacle wind power project, a 23-turbine facility planned for atop Green Mountain near Keyser.

LaRue said she feared the county would face "a cloud over this plan" if the process moved forward despite the objections.

"We've worked very hard for almost three years now, and now we have a procedural problem that could very readily be fixed," LaRue said. "We've been more or less threatened that we'll go to court, and I don't want to see that. I think it needs to be done correctly and I think all parties need to be a part of that."

"The planning commission is composed not of staff people, not of elected officials, but of volunteers who come forward to give their time for the betterment of the community," Spiggle said. "I think we need to respect that. ... I'm very proud of what the planning commission has done and in my heart I believe that due process was accomplished."

Spiggle said he believed the commission should take up the plan but also request an attorney general's opinion on the planning process.

"If the attorney general tells us that due process was accomplished, we go forward," he said. "If the attorney general tells us there is a question on his part and that due process was not accomplished, I would favor referring it back to the planning commission. I think doing so now is premature."

The debate turned tense when Spiggle suggested that the county commission was acting in response to outside pressures.

"I really don't think this commission should be intimidated -" Spiggle began.

"I am not intimidated!" Pyles interjected.

The comprehensive plan was approved by the planning commission on July 27 and passed on to the county commission for review.

Wind Force had attempted to submit written comments and a full markup of the plan to the planning commission approximately one month after a public meeting held in June to collect public comment on the document. The planning commission refused to consider the Wind Force comments, stating that the comment period had closed. Instead, it forwarded the Wind Force documents to the county commission for consideration along with the comprehensive plan.

Cookman told the county commission that the planning commission's public comment period was closed without proper notice.

Barr said that the comprehensive plan could be declared invalid because both the planning commission and county commission had failed to adopt rules and regulations governing the way they notify the public of meetings and agendas, as required under the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act. He warned the county commission that unless it returned the comprehensive plan to the planning commission, he would go to court to seek an injunction.


Source: http://times-news.com/local...

AUG 25 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27846-mineral-commission-punts-on-comprehensive-plan-vote
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