Zoning Denial Goes To Council

WHEELING – Woodsdale residents soon will learn if the Wheeling Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny the rezoning of 95 acres of wooded hillside overlooking Bethany Pike for commercial use will stand for at least the next six months.

Wheeling City Council is set to meet at noon Tuesday on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St. – and an aspect of council’s routine that typically passes with little notice will take center stage.

The minutes of the March 11 Planning Commission meeting during which city resident Kevin Coyne’s and Pennsylvania resident Doug Grayson’s request for a zone change was denied will be among a batch of several committee reports council members are to vote to accept or reject.

Planning commissioners denied the request after Coyne and Grayson declined to provide details on the nature of development they hope to bring to the property. Citing concerns over logging, potential hilltop removal and the apparent lack of a plan to address traffic, erosion and other issues related to possible development, neighborhood residents have organized – some of them forming a group called “Woodsdale United” – in opposition to the zone change.

If council accepts the report as presented, then the denial stands, and property owners must wait until at least September to bring the issue back before the Planning Commission. The only way to overturn the decision is for a member of council to object to the report and call for a vote.

However, no council member has expressed support publicly for overturning the Planning Commission’s decision, and at least four of them – Gloria Delbrugge, David Miller, Don Atkinson and Gene Fahey – have said they’d have a difficult time reversing that decision without a lot of additional information about proposed development on the land.

Before this takes place, council will hold a public hearing concerning the reprogramming of about $219,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding from the 2011-12 fiscal year to replace the Schenk Street bridge over Big Wheeling Creek, connecting the Fulton and Pensinsula areas of town. City officials have said the bridge is in bad shape, and they need to shift the funds from planned curb and sidewalk repair projects on Virginia Street and 23rd Street to help pay for the project.

This hearing is for the bridge issue only – those wishing to make comments concerning the distribution of CDBG funds for the upcoming fiscal year should attend another public hearing scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 16.

Council will also vote on the following matters Tuesday:

– Designating BB&T Bank, Progressive Bank, WesBanco, United Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. and Main Street Bank as city depositories for 2013;

– An agreement to pay Hays Landscape Architecture $39,950 to design renovations to Market Street Plaza downtown;

– Identifying the former Saseen’s Restaurant at 2149 Market St. as a redevelopment site, allowing prospective new owners Christopher and Sarah Dean to seek an Alcohol and Beverage Control Administration license to open a pub-style establishment serving craft and specialty beers in the building.