Philippi calls for community to provide input

PHILIPPI – After nearly 10 years without a comprehensive plan in place for Philippi, the city’s Planning Commission is asking the community for help and input with creating a new one.

The goal is to combine ideas, interests, requests and more into a 10-year comprehensive plan to move Philippi toward the future, Commission Chairman Hayden Cottrill said after a public forum Tuesday.

“The sky is the limit, really,” Cottrill said after the forum. “That is why it’s so important for the community to be involved so that the community’s values and their wishes for the direction that the city needs to go in are reflected in there. It can reflect anything.”

Only one community member – aside from the participating public officials – attended the forum Tuesday.

Cottrill said the last comprehensive plan encompassed desires to build more tourism, opinions from residents about attracting larger businesses like Wal-Mart and plans to attract different types of industry like manufacturing, retail, and oil and gas expansions.

“It’s just whatever you want to put in here that can help us achieve the goals for the city, which are essentially growth and financial solvency,” Cottrill said.

The next public forum will be from 7 to 8 p.m. April 8 on the campus of Alderson Broaddus University.

“It serves a tremendous purpose for the comprehensive plan to understand the impressions of the university, especially the student body,” Cottrill said during the forum.

The city of Philippi created comprehensive plans in the past, the most recent of which was created in 1995, Cottrill said.

“It is the road map for how we do business on a day-to-day basis; the direction the city needs to move in over the next 10 years,” Cottrill said.

“The comprehensive plan that is on record, that is still really supposed to be driving our decisions as a city, should have been replaced in 2005.”

Cottrill said the Planning Commission intends to provide Philippi City Council with the complete updated plan in September for its approval.

“That might be very ambitious,” Cottrill said after the forum. “Before, we paid somebody to develop the plan and we, as a planning commission, are now developing the plan.”

Although few attended the public hearing Tuesday at Philippi Elementary School, officials still kicked around ideas.

Mayor Jerry Mouser commented about the Little Laurel Run Dam water reserve project that lacks a substantial amount of funding to be completed. He said he supports the project, but also believes Philippi City Council should consider replacing its water and sewer pipes because many of them are becoming outdated.

Mouser said the city recently built a new water plant, which he called “phase one,” and is in the process of building a new sewer plant, which he called “phase two.”

“Your phase three should be concentrated on your new replacement of water and sewer lines,” Mouser said. “I think some of the sewer lines might be 100-plus years old. I don’t know how old the water lines are… my thoughts and feelings are that the city needs to develop a plan to replace those.

“Of course, it’s a very expensive process and you can’t do it all at once. It needs to be started on. Every time you look around, there’s water squirting up out of the ground.”