Comprehensive Plan Work Still Under Review

Reducing flood insurance costs, improving transportation to the city and drawing new businesses, residents and visitors are all goals set for Wellsburg officials in the comprehensive plan under development.

The city’s planning commission met Monday to review a portion of the plan developed by Jared Anderson, a professor with West Virginia University’s Land Use and Sustainable Land Development Clinic, and his students with input from city officials and residents.

The group hopes to review the remainder of the plan at its 6 p.m. Aug. 11 meeting at Wellsburg City Hall, then set a date for a public hearing. After it’s been approved by the planning commission, the plan will undergo another public hearing before being considered by Wellsburg Council.

Anderson said the plan is seen as a guide for the city’s development and may be amended over time. It must be updated every 10 years, he said.

In recent months, residents and business owners have expressed concern about hikes in premiums for the federal flood insurance program. The increases were spurred by millions of dollars in claims filed following Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and other recent disasters.

Anderson said the city can help to reduce those costs by participating in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System.

Through the program, the city can help to reduce flood insurance costs citywide by thousands of dollars through such simple measures as maintaining flood insurance maps at the local library and keeping copies of all base flood elevation certificates at City Hall.

Anderson said cities also can cut flood insurance rates by monitoring applications for any building construction in flood zones to ensure they comply with established restrictions.

The proposed comprehensive plan also states 10 homes and businesses are set to be demolished through the FEMA Buyout program, which provides funds for eligible property owners to relocate from flood-prone areas.

The program’s goal is to eliminate repeat claims for flood damages to the same properties.

The plan also shows efforts by the city to redevelop the former Brooke Glass factory site using federal funds secured to determine environmental cleanup required there.

Henne said with the help of the Brooke-Hancock Regional Economic Development Council, the city secured a $400,000 grant for a Phase 1 environmental assessment also of the former Genpak Plastic site and is seeking additional funds for further investigation there.

Anderson said he and the planning commission will set priorities and identify potential funding sources at its next meeting.

“A lot of this costs money, but there’s money out there. It’s just a matter of finding it and tapping into it,” he said.