West Virginia Home Rule Board meets at Elkins City Hall

The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean Home Rule Board Cabinet Secretary Dave Hardy, left, and board member Chris Fletcher listen to a presentation from Morgantown City Planner Paul Brake Thursday morning during a West Virginia Home Rule Board meeting at Elkins City Hall.

ELKINS — Members of the West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board hosted their quarterly meeting Thursday morning in the Elkins City Hall Council Chamber.

The goal of the meeting was to take action on six plans submitted by the city of Morgantown to amend that municipality’s Home Rule Plan.

The six amendments included a fire marshal’s arson and explosive offense arrest authority; a limit of nonconforming agricultural, industrial and manufacturing use; a waiver of certified mail requirement for zoning changes that alter density; a disposition of real estate without auction; an expenditure of money on schools by agreement with the governing agency; and an elimination of property ownership requirement for park board membership. They all were passed with a 4-0 vote.

In addition to Home Rule Board Cabinet Secretary Dave Hardy, board members Chris Fletcher and Brian Jones were attendance. Board member Wesley White participated in the meeting via telephone.

Board members Mark Polen, Craig Blair and Gary Howell were not present.

Hardy said he believes traveling to host meetings in Home Rule communities throughout the state is important because it helps to show how their meeting procedures work.

Elkins Mayor Van T. Broughton said he was happy the Home Rule Board chose Elkins for the meeting this quarter.

“I’m excited that they decided to come to Elkins for their Home Rule meeting this time. They had a lot of other places they could pick and choose from,” Broughton said. “They’ve heard how Elkins is up and coming here in the state and, of course, how beautiful it is this time of the year, and they thought this was the best place. Plus, being centrally located really helped. They took us up on our offer and we thought it would be a great way to showcase Elkins.”

In August, Elkins officials received approval for their Home Rule plan. The Home Rule Board approved seven of their nine amendment proposals, and two were voluntarily withdrawn based on recent legislative changes.

The seven proposals included options to make changes to the following: the municipal sales tax structure; the “Brunch Bill” to allow restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages earlier on Sundays for consumption on premises; funding allocation for city marketing and tourism; the process to receive approval for intergovernmental agreements; municipal court technology and maintenance fees; community enhancement districts; and the minimum number required on a list of entry-level police officer candidates.

The Brunch Bill proposal was the first to be approved by city leaders.

Jessica Sutton, Elkins city clerk, said she was excited to see the Home Rule meeting held in Elkins, noting that Elkins officials traveled to Morgantown for their meeting to be heard by the board.

“I was honored to have the meeting here. Before I started in this position I was pretty unaware of Home Rule, what that meant, how it affected Elkins or that we even participated in it,” Sutton said. “Of course since I’ve been in this position I’ve learned a lot about it, and I think it was a real honor for us to have them here and be able to host.

“It was a great coincidence that Elkins happened to go to Morgantown in July to present our Home Rule amendment plan and then Morgantown came (Thursday) to present theirs,” she continued. “It was nice to be able to have them here and see what types of things they were requesting authority for –and they were granted all their authorities, so that’s pretty exciting.”

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