Wheeling City Council Tables Employee Residency, Building Height Issues

Wheeling Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday said requiring downtown buildings to be at least three stories in height will help grow the area, but landlord Alex Coogan said this measure will discourage investment.

Also during Tuesday’s city council meeting, Councilman Dave Palmer remained resolute in his opposition to allowing “non-emergency” city workers to live anywhere while Wheeling police officers and firefighters would be restricted to a 45-mile radius of the City-County Building at 1500 Chapline St.

Council agreed to table the final vote on both these matters until at least the next regular meeting, set for noon June 6, but members engaged in spirited discussion before doing so.

“If you look at any historical photographs, you will not see a one-story building anywhere in downtown Wheeling,” Councilwoman Wendy Scatterday said. “We will be able to create a more vibrant economic environment in our downtown.”

An architect by trade, Scatterday serves as council’s representative on the city’s planning commission, which would have authority to grant variances from the new requirement, if enacted.

The requirement would not be retroactive and would only apply to new buildings in the downtown and Center Wheeling areas.

“I cannot politely describe to you how terrible of an idea this is,” Coogan said of the height requirement during the meeting’s public comment period.

Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said Mayor Glenn Elliott, who was absent Tuesday, is working on some incentives to defray some of the building costs for downtown developers. Council then agreed to table the ordinance.

Council also tabled the ordinance to change the residency requirements for employees. As written, the ordinance would have expanded the residential area for all city employees to a 45-mile radius. This significantly grows the area from which Wheeling may hire any of its workers, which is now limited to Ohio County and small portions of Marshall and Brooke counties.

However, Thalman motioned to amend this ordinance to allow most city employees — other than police officers and firefighters, who would still be subject to the 45-mile mandate — to live anywhere. Palmer, a retired Wheeling freighter, opposes this.

Council then voted 5-1, with Palmer in opposition, for Thalman’s amendment. Members then agreed to table the amended ordinance for final vote until at least the June 6 meeting.

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