KEYSER — After being threatened with a lawsuit two weeks ago, the Mineral County Commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to send the draft of the 10-Year Comprehensive Plan back to the Planning Commission, with the directive that they hold at least one more public hearing on the massive document.


by LIZ BEAVERS
Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER — After being threatened with a lawsuit two weeks ago, the Mineral County Commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to send the draft of the 10-Year Comprehensive Plan back to the Planning Commission, with the directive that they hold at least one more public hearing on the massive document.
Commission President Wayne Spiggle voted against Commissioner Janice LaRue's motion to return the plan, saying he didn't feel the county commissioners should be intimidated into taking such an action.
“I'm not intimidated,” Commissioner Cindy Pyles said, to which LaRue added, “I'm not either.”
The proposed plan, which has been in the works for at least three years, was presented to the county commissioners at their Aug. 10 meeting by County Planner Scott Clay. Attorney Jack Barr challenged the presentation of the plan at that time, however, saying the planning commission had not properly followed the statutes of the West Virginia Open Meetings Law.
Jim Cookman of U.S. Windforce agreed, noting that written comments that he had presented on behalf of the wind energy company had not been incorporated into the plan. Cookman said one planning commission member “took the position that the comment period was closed,” but Cookman felt “it was closed without any prior notification that it had been closed.”
Tuesday, LaRue said she felt the planning commission had worked too long and too hard on the plan to take any chances that there would be a problem with it in the future.
“We recognize the dedication and hard work the planning commission has put into this, and they felt they followed the procedures, but it's been questioned,” she said.
“That puts a cloud over it.”
She said she would rather see the potential procedural problem corrected now, as opposed to having it come up later in the process or even after the plan is put into effect.
“This is a problem that can be readily fixed  now,” she said.
Spiggle said, however, that he felt the planning commission had accomplished what it was supposed to do.
“I'm very  proud of what the planning commission has done and in my heart I believe due process was accomplished,” he said.
“This is a group of volunteers who have come forward to give their time for the betterment of the county. I think we should respect that,” he said.
“We are the elected officials. The buck stops here.”
Spiggle suggested, instead of returning the plan to the planning commission, to request an opinion from the West Virginia State Attorney General on whether the planning commission followed proper procedure in approving and presented the draft.
“If he tells us due process was accomplished, then we move forward. If he tells us due process was not accomplished, then we turn it back to the planning commission,” he said.
LaRue said, however, that she would “like to see all the comments that were made. Right now, we don't know what was said.”
“But the open process is still guaranteed,” Spiggle countered, noting that the commissioners themselves would be conducting public hearings on the proposed plan.
“I just don't think this county commission should be intimidated.”
“Does your motion still stand?” Pyles asked LaRue, cutting the conversation short.
“Yes, it does,” LaRue said.
“Then so does my second.”
The motion passed 2-1..