WJ comprehensive plan in the works

By Brandon Semler - bsemler@civitasmedia.com

The Village of West Jefferson is in the beginning stages of formulating a plan to prepare for the village’s future, including the growth, infrastructure and development goals for the next several years.

The village council approved a resolution last week authorizing the mayor and/or public service director to seek bids for a new comprehensive plan.

“We’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” Mayor Darlene Steele said Monday.

The village has already set aside $20,000 in the 2015 budget to invest into the project, Steele said.

Though it is too early to get into details, Steele said she hopes the village will come up with something to serve as a directional plan for the village for the next five to seven years.

Comprehensive plans are common in cities, villages, townships and counties. A plan can be a tool for planning the future growth or decline of a local community, and used to address the constant change and evolution of a community.

In West Jefferson, the plan will likely include goals and guidelines for development, growth, housing, infrastructure, business, transportation, village activities and more.

“A lot of it will depend on the income we have at the time,” Steele said.

The project will likely focus on the next five to seven years, but a “wish list” for the next 20 years could also be included, Steele said.

Council vice president Steve Johnston said he pushed for funds to be set aside for the plan in the meetings leading up to the passing of the 2015 budget.

“We need to have a road map and an outline of where we want to go, and where we need to be,” Johnston said.

Johnston said a plan was developed in 2007 by former mayor Scott Hockenberry, and that the plan did not account for the recent commercial growth in the industrial park, or the water treatment project currently taking place.

“The (plan) we had was not comprehensive enough,” Johnston said.

Steele said the project was delayed because of the departure of Dave Metzger as public service director last year. Current director John Mitchell was given time to adjust to the job and the several major projects taking place in the village before turning to the comprehensive plan.

Steele, who is retiring at the end of the year, said projects like this take a lot of time.

“It may not come to fruition in my time here,” she said. “But I hope we can get started on it.”

Brandon Semler can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.


By Brandon Semler