WVU working on regional comprehensive plan for Upper Kanawha Valley

Published: Nov. 1, 2016 at 12:17 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The first regional comprehensive plan in West Virginia is in the works for communities in the Upper Kanawha Valley.

On Tuesday, Kanawha County Commissioners were briefed on the process of a plan being developed by the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic (LUSD Law clinic) at West Virginia University.

The plan started as a comprehensive plan just for the City of Montgomery after WVU pulled WVU Tech out of the city.

After speaking with residents in the area, those with LUSD law clinic say the City of Smithers and the Town of Gauley Bridge voiced a need for a plan for their own.

"Clearly, WVU understands that moving the college out of Montgomery has some adverse economic impact and the University President Gee has made it a point that the university is the entire state of West Virginia. So we are doing what we could to help Montgomery and then when we started talking to people we also heard from Smithers and Gauley Bridge," explained Jesse Richardson, an Associate Professor at WVU College of Law.

Kanawha County was the final local government that was needed to formally sign off on the regional plan. According to the LUSD law clinic, Montgomery, Smithers, Gauley Bridge and Fayette County have all already signed retainer agreements supporting a regional comprehensive plan.

"What we kept hearing was the Upper Kanawha Valley is a region, we are all in the same boat together, we want to do this as a region," said Richardson.

Richardson says now local planning commissions will begin meeting to select a representative to make up a UKV Regional Planning Commission.

Once the regional commission is selected, they will start meeting to work on the comprehensive plan for the region. A training for those involved with the commission is planned for December.

Richardson says the comprehensive plan will be used to improve the economic outlook for the region.

"We think that the future of the Upper Kanawha Valley is a bright one," said Richardson.

Richardson says the LUSD law clinic is drafting an ordinance for each of the five local governments to adopt that will create the regional planning commission.