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730 respond to Buckhannon survey

BUCKHANNON — Of the 730 respondents to a community survey for the Buckhannon 2025 amended comprehensive plan, most are happy with the place they call home.

“What we found is people are happy,” Curtis Wilkerson, chair of the Buckhannon Planning Commission, said at the last Buckhannon City Council meeting.

“Across the entire Buckhannon Community people….they really enjoy this community, they think that things are moving in a very positive direction, they are pleased that people are working together, that the entities are working together. There is the hope that city and county government would find more efficiencies,” he said.

Wilkerson said there were a number of items applicable from the Buckhannon 2015 plan but some were not included in this amended version.

Concern over drug abuse and adequate education opportunities were also mentioned among respondents.

Copies of the proposed amended comprehensive plan are available at Buckhannon City Hall, Charles W. Gibson Library, Upshur County Visitors Center or online at www.buckhannonwv.org.

Wilkerson discussed the process the commission undertook over the previous year as it sought to come up with an amended plan which followed the state code.

“We wanted to take the 2015 plan and build on the success that it had,” he said. “We wanted to satisfy state code. We wanted to be very inclusive and we wanted to be very transparent. We wanted to be very positive.

They also wanted a plan that was succinct and under 20 pages.

“We enjoyed the conversation, we worked together well and I think we came to you with a very quality document,” he said.

The planning commission first researched plans from municipalities across the country who are similar in size to Buckhannon.

Next, the planning commission held a series of open meetings that were well attended, according to Wilkerson.

“We had over 1,000 hours of work by the planning commission and stake holders,” he said. “We did it all in a single one-year process which was the goal from the first meeting we had last year.”

Sub committee chairs were created for each section and those sub committee chairs held stakeholder meetings and focus groups to bring information together.

“We took the 2017 goals that were outlined by this body, by city council as well as city department heads and put those into a document as well,” he said. “One of the key parts we did was take a 2015 plan and do an analysis of what was completed, what was pending and what was no longer applicated for this particular situation. Then we reviewed the other updated plans that various planning commissions had worked on over the last few years in order to take into account their wishes and information they had. We want to express our thanks to those groups.”

Wilkerson highlighted that around 730 people responded to a survey – almost double the number of people who participated in the 2015 survey.

“We partnered with a lot of stakeholders to distribute that survey both digital and hard copy,” he said.

Collection boxes were set up in places like the courthouse annex and the commission work with interns from West Virginia Wesleyan to compile data.

“Lastly, we had a large event at the Public Safety Complex in January,” he said.

The reason I tell you all that is because beyond the 1,000 hours plus that the planning commission had and the stakeholders had, there were additional thousands of hours that the citizens of Buckhannon and the community had in the surveys, the meetings and everything else.

“We want to thank you for the opportunity to serve the community and appreciate the opportunity to work with our fellow citizens of the greater Buckhannon area,” he said.

Mayor David McCauley thanked Wilkerson and members of the commission for their work: Catherine Cuppari, Dean Everett, Matt Kerner, Jack Reger, Rich Clemens, Susan Aloi, Vincent Smith and councilman C.J. Rylands.

“This is supposed to be a living document that we will be attentive to and try to employ as we go forward in years to come,” he said.

Upon motion by councilwoman Mary Albaugh and seconded by councilwoman Pam Bucklew, the council accepted the plan. The plan now must go through a two-reading ordinance for city council to adopt the plan.

The first reading of the ordinance adopting the plan is scheduled for the Sept. 5 city council meeting with a public hearing and second reading/adoption at the Sept. 19 meeting.