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Putnam County Planning Commission hopes fourth time is a charm for business ordinances

On Tuesday, the planning commission voted for the fourth time on proposed changes to business...
On Tuesday, the planning commission voted for the fourth time on proposed changes to business ordinances in the county.(Tori Yorgey)
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 11:48 PM EST
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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Putnam County Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to send new proposed ordinances to the County Commission board.

“It’s been something we’ve been looking at for several years,” said Jacob Pack, president of the planning board. “Since (it was rejected last by the commission), we’ve made some additional changes to the amendment in order to address some concerns that came from the public and county commission.”

Tuesday marked the fourth time the planning commission has voted on a proposal for the county commission to approve. Each time they’ve come up with proposed changes to the commissioners, they’ve been turned down. However, with new Commissioner Brian Ellis on the board, members of the planning commission are hoping the fourth time is the charm.

“There’s certain businesses over the last year or year and a half that have made inquiries into opening or relocating into Putnam County,” Pack told WSAZ. “(But) the cost and time associated with (the process to acquire a permit) made it more economically feasible for them to do it elsewhere.”

As it is, certain businesses like service stations or restaurants that serve alcohol need a special permit in order to operate in certain areas of Putnam County.

“There’s a difference between commercial one and, two, there’s different zones and different type of businesses that go in there,” Pack said. “We just tried to make it more fair and make more sense which type goes into which.”

The board says special permits require a lot of information and steps, including a public hearing to get the community’s input. However, with the proposed new changes, many of those steps would be eliminated, including the public hearing, and the process would be much quicker.

“I believe that what they’re trying to do with this text amendment is take the voice out of the citizens, and that’s where I’m concerned,” said Linda Tennant, a Teays Valley resident.

Tennant has been fighting the changes since the first time the zoning ordinance changes hit the planning commission agenda.

“The types of businesses that they’re wanting to change from special to general permit such as service stations, restaurants that serve alcohol,” said Tennant. “If you’re a resident that lives within 200 feet of a restaurant that serves alcohol, you’re still going to hear noise, music and still going to see lighting. So those types of things, I don’t think need to be changed. I think they need to stay under special permits.”

The county commission will vote on the proposed changes at their next scheduled commission meeting on Jan. 12.

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