Plans for Land Are in Demand

Bethany Pike resident Sharon Travis on Tuesday urged Wheeling city officials to press landowner Kevin Coyne for details on his plans for a 94-acre tract of land along W.Va. 88 before they consider rezoning the property from residential to commercial.

Travis’ comments were in response to a petition from city resident Kevin Coyne to have the land rezoned from R-1A Single-Family Residential to C-2 Commercial.

But Coyne, who was not present at the council meeting, said late Tuesday there are no specific plans to develop the property yet, and he’s just trying to get the process started.

“There isn’t a plan. … It’s just a large tract of land that has years’ worth of site work and preparation to try and make it something. In order to get something off the ground, you’ve got to start somewhere,” he said.

Council referred Coyne’s and one other zone change request, from John Hannig to have property at 111 Park View Lane rezoned from R-1B to Education, Medical and Office use, to the city Planning Commission. But Travis, who lives at 220 Bethany Pike, said her property has been damaged by mud and water, which she believes has resulted from logging on Coyne’s hillside above.

“I still have runoff coming to my yard that was not there. … We put a lot of money into our house and it’s very disappointing to have this going on around us,” she said, adding she and some of her neighbors are putting together a petition expressing their concerns. “Until we know what Mr. Coyne is absolutely going to do … we’re just really concerned about what’s going on.”

She claims the timbering was illegal, but Coyne insists everything was done by the book.

“We had secured a formal logging permit last year. … We have the right to timber,” he said, noting a state forestry official visited the property as recently as Monday and found no issues. “There are no infractions. There are no problems. … We’ve conducted our business in accordance with state law.”

Councilman Don Atkinson, who sits on the Planning Commission, told Travis that body would conduct a public hearing on Coyne’s request March 11. If commissioners grant their approval,

City Council would then have to give the final OK, a process that likely would take until at least May.

In other business, council voted 6-0, with Councilman David Miller absent, to buy four new Ford Interceptor police cruisers from Doan Ford of Belmont.

The three-year lease-purchase agreements are for a total of $119,448, and are a non-budgeted expense in excess of the five new cruisers council had set aside funds in the current budget to purchase.

But Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger requested council upgrade the fleet now that officers are logging more miles on patrol following the switch from two officers per car to one.

During his report, City Manager Robert Herron told council the state Division of Highways has set a timeline for the addition of a right-hand turning lane for traffic turning from Kruger Street east onto National Road.

It’s a long-awaited project for Elm Grove residents, who are subjected to a “traffic nightmare” when vehicles back up at the intersection, according to Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey.

Herron said the project should go out for bid March 28, with a contract awarded by April 28 and the start of construction expected by May 28.

“Although I wouldn’t bet my firstborn child on that, I would expect those dates would be met,” he said.