New Moundsville Business Proposal Raises City Council Concern

MOUNDSVILLE — While a proposal to build a new “major business” might seem promising to most city officials, those in Moundsville are not sure whether they should support construction of a new business a developer has expressed interest in building along W.Va. 2.

City leaders said the issue weighs on their minds because the developer has yet to announce what kind of business they want to build on property already occupied by a restaurant and two homes.

“The question is, ‘Do we shrink the residential zone in that area to put in a business that we do not know what it is going to be yet?'” said City Manager Allen Hendershot.

He said the Multi-Family Residential Zone at 514 and 516 Ninth St. soon may become an expansion of the Combined Central Business, Highway and Integral Commercial District zoned at 517 and 519 Eighth St. if council passes an ordinance to change the zoning.

Hendershot said the Acapulco Restaurant and a vacant lot sit on the Eighth Street properties the developer intends to buy, whereas two homes sit on the Ninth Street properties and that is why a zoning change would be needed.

The vacant lot next to the restaurant is currently up for sale, but Hendershot said, as far as he knows, the owners of the Acapulco Restaurant have no intention of closing their operation.

At the Nov. 29 meeting of the Moundsville Planning Commission, Stanley Stewart and Robert Samol appeared for SR 2 Properties LLC and reviewed a petition they presented to the commission requesting the zone change be made. They said they were buying all four properties listed above through Kenan and Kenan Realtors and Paull Associates to develop what they would only described as a “retail establishment” covering 1.5 acres.

While no one on the commission opposed the change, they did express concern over not knowing the identity of the proposed project.

Stewart, at that time, said negotiations were still under way, citing that as a reason that the business name has not been announced.

Since a zoning change must be drafted in the form of an ordinance and voted on by council, the planning commission recommended the change to the zoning board, where it was reviewed and placed before the Moundsville Policy Committee, which also recommended the zone change to City Council.

At the Dec. 4 meeting, council voted to table the issue until more information was available; by the Dec.18 meeting, the small amount of new information council had received since Dec. 4 was enough for some but not for all.

“Because of not knowing yet what this business is going to be, I really don’t know what to do,” said Mayor Dennis Wallace. “If I vote for it and it turns out to be a bad decision, I’m stuck. If I vote against it and it turns about to be a good decision, I’m stuck.”

In the end, Wallace chose to abstain from voting on the issue.

Supporters of the zoning change ordinance said voting against it would be standing in the way of progress for downtown development. They said the city should not turn businesses away.

Vice Mayor Wayne LeMasters and Councilman Jack Cunningham disagreed, however, noting it would not be smart to vote in favor of plans by developers who have not announced what they plan to put on the property.

Still, a decision to draft a zone change ordinance passed with a 5-1 vote, and City Attorney Thomas White was directed to draft the legislation.

Hendershot said the ordinance must be read twice and voted on by council before the change can occur.