EFD Receives Elevator Training

Elevators are a great convenience–until they stop working, whether due to mechanical problems or as a result of a larger emergency. Elkins Fire Department and Randolph County Department of Homeland Security personnel spent Saturday getting up to speed on the special challenges and risks associated with rescuing people trapped in elevators.

The training session was led by John Hoffman, a retired fire chief from New Jersey and the current Braxton County Department of Homeland Security director. Members were instructed on operating landing doors, manual lowering of elevator cars and firefighter bypass operations.

The training was held at Davis Medical Center.

City Hall News: Week of June 27, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Water Board and council’s Personnel Committee. The fireworks display is Saturday, July 2.

Meeting in special session Tuesday at 3 p.m., the Personnel Committee will begin work on recruiting a new operations manager after the incumbent, Josh Sanson, announced that he would resign July 1.

The Water Board meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. New business items include a reimbursement request from the Randolph County Housing Authority and a proposal to use ARPA funds to purchase air compressors at the water treatment plant.

Business-license renewals are due by Thursday. All outstanding B&O taxes must be paid before the new license will be issued.

This year’s Independence Day weekend festivities are presented and managed by Mountain State Street Machines. The fireworks display will take place after dark on Saturday, July 2.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

City Hall News: Week of June 20, 2022

Meeting this week are council’s ad hoc Organizational Audit Committee and Rules & Ordinances Committee. Also meeting is the Elkins Historic Landmarks Commission. City hall is closed Monday, but trash will be collected as usual.

Business-license renewals are due by Thursday. All outstanding B&O taxes must be paid before the new license will be issued. To avoid penalty, pay utility bills no later than Sunday. Pay online here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/government/treasurer/online-utility-bill-payment.

The Historic Landmarks Commission meets Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Darden House (next door to city hall). There are no new-business agenda items; old business items include an update on stained-glass window repair, consideration of renting space in the Darden House for meetings, and an update on Maplewood Cemetery.

The Organizational Audit Committee continues its work Wednesday at 1 p.m., when the city’s five administrative officers will present initial ideas for improving efficiency within and among their departments.

On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., the Rules & Ordinances Committee will meet in special session to discuss a proposed ordinance that would create a framework to enable restaurants to offer outside dining on public sidewalks. (It is already legal for restaurants to offer outside dining on their own property.)

This weekend, the Kump Education Center is hosting an open house on Saturday and Sunday, 2-5 p.m., at the historic Governor Kump House on Randolph Avenue. The event will feature vintage Kump family wedding dresses and memorabilia, new interpretive displays, a visit by a reenactor portraying Eleanor Roosevelt at 3 p.m., and tours. The event is free and open to the public, but donations are encouraged. Parking is available at the rear of the house. For more information, call 304-637-7820.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

Zoning Update Moves to Council

The Elkins Planning Commission officially presented city council with its proposed update to city zoning laws in June, capping seven years of work by commissioners. State code stipulates several additional steps council must now follow before the new zoning ordinance can become law. These include a public comment period and two public hearings. The earliest date on which the ordinance could become law would be August 18.

The Planning Commission has held about 50 noticed, public meetings on this topic since 2015. The commission has also held three open houses to collect public input (January 2018, September 2018, and December 2021). As reflected in the commission’s meeting minutes, commissioners carefully considered, and often made changes in response to, every comment or suggestion received at these open houses, in addition to written and verbal comments from the public and from other elected officials.

Council will accept written comments on the proposed ordinance, which should be routed through the Office of the City Clerk, through July 15. On July 26, council will hold a daytime hearing at 1 p.m., followed by an evening hearing on July 28 at 7 p.m. The July 28 hearing will be followed by a regular council meeting, at which the ordinance is scheduled for first reading. As mentioned, the second and final reading is tentatively scheduled for August 18.

Zoning laws regulate how land may be used inside a jurisdiction. These laws divide jurisdictions into sections, or zones, and stipulate the kinds of businesses and housing that are allowed in each of these. Zoning laws also cover topics like where buildings may be situated on a lot and how many accessory buildings (e.g., sheds) are allowed. Other matters that zoning laws might cover include rules for urban livestock and agriculture, as well as requirements for buffer zones between commercial and residential properties.

Elkins zoning laws were first approved in the 1950s and have not been significantly updated since the 1970s. Starting in 2015, the Elkins Planning Commission has been preparing a comprehensive update to the city’s zoning laws. The objectives articulated by the Planning Commission for the update include attracting more personal and commercial investment into the city, encouraging small-scale businesses (including low-impact home businesses in some residential zones) and retail spaces, protecting neighborhood character, and preparing the city for new kinds of businesses that were not on the radar when the city’s current zoning laws were drafted.

Because the city’s zoning laws were so far out of date and, in part, no longer in compliance with state and federal laws and court rulings, the commission elected to start drafting its update from scratch. Some of the biggest changes in the new law would regulate the type, size, and placement of signs; encourage the creative repurposing of former schools and churches, which can be difficult under current city zoning rules; preserve vital retail space downtown by forbidding the conversion of storefronts into residences; and require “buffers” between commercial areas and residences, such as landscaping or fences.

Legally operated businesses and rental units would be “grandfathered” under the new law. This means that, even if the type of business or style of residence conflicted with those allowed in a particular zone under the new law, these “non-conforming uses” would be allowed to continue, even if the property is sold, unless abandoned for a year or longer. The proposed ordinance includes no design or historic-preservation requirements.

To ensure that the update incorporated proven, effective practices and complied with all applicable state and federal laws, the commission has throughout this process relied on the advice of planning and legal professionals from the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, a program of the West Virginia University College of Law. Elkins is one of 20 West Virginia communities that clinic staffers are currently assisting with zoning ordinances at no cost.

Under the process stipulated by state law, planning commissions proposing new zoning ordinances must do by creating a document referred to as a Study and Report on Zoning. This document includes analysis of current conditions and an explanation of why changes to zoning laws are needed. The report then includes two appendices, one containing the proposed new ordinance and one containing the proposed new zoning map.

For more information and to download the Study and Report on Zoning (including the proposed zoning ordinance and map), visit: www.cityofelkinswv.com/zoning-update.

City Hall News: Week of June 13, 2022

Meeting next week are council’s Public Safety Committee and Finance Committee, as well as the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. Council’s regular Thursday meeting has been moved to Tuesday, and Blue Grass Park has reopened.

The Public Safety Committee meets Monday at 10 a.m. The only new business item concerns traffic controls at downtown intersections.

The Finance Committee also meets Monday, at 11 a.m. The committee will take up requested budget revisions and consider a proposal from Invoice Cloud.

Council meets in special session Tuesday at 7 p.m. The final agenda includes the following new business items: request to transfer portions of Industrial Park Road and Riverbend Park Road to the W. Va. Department of Highways; request from Woodlands Development and Lending to place a generator and transformer in the Seneca Mall parking lot as part of the Tygart Hotel renovation; a grant application to fund purchase of a generator at the Wastewater Treatment Plant; renewal of the contract with Mitchell Tree Care on behalf of the Elkins Tree Board; and budget revisions recommended by the Finance Committee.

Meeting at the Phil Gainer Community Center on Wednesday at 5 p.m., the Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss skate park art; a draft of a design for an Elkins Riverfront Trail; a floor protector for the Phil Gainer Community Center; and plans for improvements at City Park.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

Kump Education Center Plans Summer Open House

The Kump Education Center will be hosting a special summertime Open House weekend, June 25-26, from 2-5 p.m. at the Gov. Kump House in Elkins. The two-day event is themed “Something Old, Something New” and will feature vintage family wedding gowns, memorabilia, and new interpretive displays.

The event will be the first time Edna Scott Kump’s 1907 and Peggy Kump Roberts’ 1936 wedding gowns will be on formal display along with other early 1900s wedding items. The home will be decorated with a wedding touch, and an Eleanor Roosevelt reenactor will be having tea in the newly built outdoor pavilion on the house grounds at 3 p.m.

The displays focus not only on family weddings but also on the historical significance of the site and the legacy of Gov. Kump, one of the most influential governors of the state.

“This will be our first of what we hope will be many Open Houses at the Kump House,” said Heather Biola, executive director of the Kump Education Center. “There is great significance to the overarching “Kump House at the Crossroads” theme of the minigrant: the house is at a major crossroads of several significant roads; Governor Kump served during a very transitional Depression to New Deal period of West Virginia history; and the brides were on their way to new stages of their lives.”

Admission to the event is free, but donations are highly encouraged. Limited parking will be available behind the Kump House, located on Randolph Ave., Elkins, and in the Kroger parking lot across the street.

The displays and event are partially funded by a West Virginia Humanities Council mini-grant. The WV Humanities Council is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and serves West Virginia through grants and direct programs in the humanities.

The Humanities Council budgets over $800,000 for grants and programs each year. A variety of grants are offered to nonprofit organizations that support educational programming. Major grants are designed for projects requesting over $1,500 and up to $20,000 and are awarded twice annually. Mini-grants, designed for projects requesting $1,500 or less, are awarded four times per year. The next Humanities Council mini-grant deadline is October 1, and the next major grant deadline is September 1.

For more information about the West Virginia Humanities Council grants program, contact Humanities Council grants administrator Erin Riebe at (304) 346-8500 or via email at riebe@wvhumanities.org. Grant guidelines and applications are available on the Humanities Council website, www.wvhumanities.org.

Elkins Council Limits Alley Parking

Parking in downtown alleys allowed only while loading/unloading

Parking is no longer allowed in downtown alleys under a new law passed by council. Outside the downtown area, alley parking remains allowed under certain conditions. The primary reason for the changes is to ensure access for emergency vehicles.

In downtown alleys, the law states, “no person shall park a vehicle within an alley… except when actually loading or unloading goods, wares, or merchandise, and then for a period not to exceed thirty minutes.” For the purposes of this law, the downtown is the area bounded by Railroad Avenue, Randolph Avenue, John Street, and Lohr Lane, the alley that runs parallel to and south of First Street.

In the rest of the city, under the new law, alley parking is allowed, as long as vehicles are positioned in such a way as to leave a 10-foot width of the roadway available for the free movement of emergency vehicles and other traffic.

Throughout the city, exceptions may exist. Motorists must in all cases obey posted “no parking” and “no standing” signs.

For more about parking in Elkins: www.cityofelkinswv.com/living/parking.

Elkins Seeking Design Services for Streetscape Plan

A city’s downtown can benefit from a consistent appearance, but how is consistency best achieved? Even property owners acting with the best intentions may find it difficult to coordinate their renovations, sidewalk replacements, façade improvements, and other projects to achieve a unified look across the downtown.

A project recently greenlighted by Elkins Common Council takes a first step toward solving this problem. The city is taking statements of interest and qualification from landscape architecture, design, and/or engineering firms that want to help the city create a “conceptual design” for the downtown streetscape. This conceptual design would include technical specifics for building materials and the design of building facades, sidewalks, outdoor lighting, streets, pedestrian safety features, and landscaping.

Statements of interest and qualification in preparing this document are due to the city’s operations manager by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 14.

The full request for proposals may be reviewed here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/working/bids-rfps.

City Hall News: Week of June 6, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Sanitary Board and the Elkins Tree Board. Also meeting are council’s Rules & Ordinances Committee and Personnel Committee. Free bulk trash pickups start Monday. The Addiction and Homelessness Task Force holds a public forum Tuesday. Overdue utility accounts must be brought up to date before Tuesday to avoid shutoff.

The new bulk pickup service for residential customers starts this week. The Sanitation Department’s grapple truck will visit a different part of the city throughout each month, starting with customers whose household trash is normally collected on Mondays. These customers may place one large bulk item (e.g., appliance, furniture, etc.) curbside by 6 a.m. Monday, although it may not be picked up until later in the week. Find the schedule for the rest of the month and other information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/bulk-pickups.

The Sanitary Board meets Monday at 1 p.m. Agenda items include a discussion about the Teaberry Hills and Sylvester Drive sewer issue and the matter of extending sewer lines up North Randolph Avenue. Burgess & Niple will present the results of its wastewater system needs assessment.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., in the Darden House (next door to city hall), the Tree Board meets to decide whether to continue its Adopt-A-Tree program this fall, plan a workday at the Kump Education Center nursery, and discuss an August gathering.

Also on Tuesday, at 6 p.m., the Addiction and Homelessness Task Force will hold a public forum at the Phil Gainer Center to provide an update on its work and take questions and suggestions.

The Rules & Ordinances Committee meets Wednesday at 9 a.m. In addition to continuing work on a framework enabling restaurants to legally provide sidewalk seating in the public right-of-way, the committee will discuss the possibility of creating a rule imposing confidentiality on participants in council executive sessions.

The Personnel Committee meets Thursday at 12 p.m. to consider the reappointment of the city treasurer.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

City Hall News: Week of May 30, 2022

Meeting this week are the Elkins Water Board and Elkins Common Council. City hall is closed Monday, in observance of Memorial Day, and trash normally collected Mondays will be collected on Tuesday, starting at 6 a.m.

The Water Board is meeting in special session Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. to review a needs assessment concerning the city’s water and wastewater systems prepared by Burgess & Niple.

Council meets Thursday at 7 p.m. The agenda may be adjusted through Tuesday. Current new business items include various recommendations for use of ARPA funds from council’s ad hoc ARPA Advisory Committee and review of proposed designs for new Elkins welcome signs. Also at this meeting, the Elkins Planning Commission will officially submit its proposed new zoning ordinance to council, commencing the final adoption process. This process will not be complete until late summer at the earliest, after two public hearings (to be announced) and other steps required by state law.

First-due area (i.e., outside city limits) Fire & Rescue Service Fee payments are due June 1st. FY2023 business license applications have been mailed out and are due by June 30th. Any outstanding B&O taxes must be paid before an FY2023 business license will be issued.

All meetings are open to the public and, unless otherwise stated, held at Elkins City Call (401 Davis Avenue). Find agendas and other meeting information here: www.cityofelkinswv.com/council-and-committee-meetings.

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