Officials discuss land development

HAMBLETON – A passel of Tucker County officials met in a special session Monday to discuss development and land use in the county.

The Tucker County Commission took part, as did the county’s Development Authority and Planning Commission.

Commissioner Mike Rosenau asked Paul “Butch” Burns, the Tucker County assessor, if there is developable land along U.S. Route 93 coming through Montrose, where the new section of Corridor H is scheduled to be built.

“As everybody knows, Western Pocahontas owns several thousand acres in Tucker County,” Burns said. “Coming up U.S. 93, they have acres on each side of the road that are managed timber. That land all can be developed.”

Burns said once Corridor H gets into Tucker County, it will be a quick jump from Washington, D.C. to Tucker County.

“We have already seen a growth in people that have second homes here,” Burns said. “People are buying property and building houses, and renting them out because of the skiing and recreation in the area. So that has increased our tax base a lot because their employment there is triple figures.

“So when Corridor H gets here, there is a big opportunity for developed housing and stuff. As far as businesses, people fill their tanks before they get to West Virginia and that gets them back home.”

Burns noted the significance of the county’s skiing industry.

“That brings a lot of income into Tucker County,” Burns said. “I don’t know why we don’t look into something like a water park for summertime. We would have the same group of people coming in – it’s a short distance. That would build up housing and local people can work there. I know they would not be high-paying jobs, but they would be jobs. People in this area are used to making a go of it with low incomes.”

Burns said land can be developed if Western Pocahontas sells. He said other major property owners in the area include West Virginia Power and Vandalia.

Rosenau said he was interested in the old Davis Center.

“The state invested a lot of money there and it just sets,” Rosenau said. “We have had several discussions with the state. They won’t pin down any specific plans they have for the facility.”

An audience member asked what kind of follow-up the county had with businesses that came into Tucker County but did not stay long, or businesses who considered moving to Tucker County but did not come.

“How do we reevaluate what we need to do to attract and keep businesses?”

“We have put together a document that tells who we are, what our employment base is and about our land,” Anne Jones, the Tucker County Development Authority’s executive director, said. “To be perfectly frank, because of the small size of a lot of our buildings, we are not necessarily on the radar of the state. A lot of the stuff we do is home-grown.”

Jones said there is a great need to market the county within the state.

“At Tucker County Day at the Legislature, people saw folks from Parsons, Davis, Thomas, Hendricks and Hambleton working together,” Jones said. “So please, sell our message. If you want to be involved in Tucker County Day at the Legislature, let us know.”

Rosenau said a group has been working on signs to be placed at the county’s edge, welcoming those who visit the area.

“We have met to discuss locations for large and small signs,” said Bill Smith, executive director of the CVB. “We have a four-lane highway entering our county. Instead of putting a sign on the side of the road, why not place it in the median where you could address those leaving the county as well?”

Rosenau said great minds were present during Monday’s meeting.

“So bring those ideas forward,” Rosenau said. “This is the vehicle for you to talk to others and have your thoughts and ideas incorporated into what is going on in Tucker County.”