Planning Commission to Consider ‘Mixed-Use Village’ in Woodsdale
WHEELING — The city’s Planning Commission is set to spend the next several months considering a proposed “mixed-use village” to be built on a hilltop in Woodsdale.
The commission will hear a presentation at its meeting Monday night from company GC&P Development, which plans to use a 100-acre piece of land north of the neighborhood along W.Va. 88 to develop commercial, residential, office and other space.
The company, owned by investors Douglas Grayson and Kevin Coyne, is applying for the creation of a special area plan to accommodate the development. The application also involves amending Wheeling’s 2014 comprehensive plan to accommodate for the proposed mixed use.
The Planning Commission will consider that application over its upcoming monthly meetings, said Tom Connelly, assistant director of economic and community development. Residents can attend the meetings to provide input, and the commission could hold a public hearing on the matter as early as October, he said.
The proposed “village” would include retail shops, office space, a grocery store, a movie theater and residential areas with townhouses and assisted living, according to a press release from lawyer Michael Hooper, representing GC&P Development. It would also include nature and bike trails and an arboretum.
“This unique mixed-use village will include numerous uses that are collectively not currently available in Wheeling,” Hooper said. “While still in the early stages of site planning, we encourage your comments and feedback as this progresses.”
The development would span 50 to 55 acres and include more than 77,300 square feet of commercial space with 88 residential lots, according to the application submitted to the city.
Without delays, the commission could make a recommendation to City Council regarding the special area plan for the development by its November meeting, Connelly said. The body is required to give a 30-day notice to residents and then hold a public hearing on the matter.
That’s just the first step, Connelly said. Next, the commission would consider a zone change for the property from residential to commercial. If that is approved, the commissioners would have to approve a site plan review of the development.
“Essentially there are three different reviews, the special area plan, then zone change, then site plan review,” Connelly said. “I don’t anticipate people having detailed technical questions at the first meeting. It’s the applicant’s opportunity to present the overall vision.”
GC&P Development first requested a zone change on the property in 2013, which was met by opposition from residents and ultimately a recommendation of denial by the Planning Commission. The company, which at that time didn’t say what its development plans involved, withdrew the request and council never took any action on matter, Connelly said.
Among those who originally opposed to the development was Woodsdale resident Wendy Scatterday, now Wheeling’s Ward 4 councilwoman and a member of the Planning Commission. Scatterday said she and her neighbors were originally concerned with construction and logging activity occurring at the site.
Scatterday said Wednesday that she had only been able to look at GC&P’s application materials in brief, but still holds health and safety concerns regarding land use of the hilltop in question.
“My concern is the proposed change of topography is so significant that it would cause a safety risk for any property owners adjacent,” she said. “Someone who wants to develop a property, they can put forth those ideas, but what needs to come with that are guarantees that they are not going to endanger the health, safety and welfare of surrounding property owners or citizens in adjacent areas.”
Construction proposed by GC&P Development includes an “Oglebay Corridor Improvement Project,” which would make W.Va. 88 near the site a safer and pedestrian-friendly road with improvements in road design, according to the application.
The application also includes plans for reducing elevation on the hilltop as well as plans for grading and drainage that would “move drainage away from the Woodsdale-Edgwood area.”
“The project will also benefit the economy through the creation of new jobs, an increased tax base, improvements to the (W.Va. 88) corridor, utility infrastructure improvements and overall improvement of the area and quality of life available to the region,” Hooper said.
GC&P Development spent “considerable time and resources” to investigate the feasibility of the project, including soliciting a geotechnical analysis by a natural resources firm. That analysis established that the site was stable and viable for development, according to the application.
The company’s plans were reviewed by West Virginia’s Division of Highways and Department of Environmental Protection, which in turn delivered favorable feasibility letters to the city.
Scatterday said the hilltop has a history of mining and has seen stability issues and slips in the past. Changing the area’s topography would impact how water flows through the site and could create safety problems, she said.
However, Scatterday said she’s pleased that the company’s plans are now being made public.
“I’m glad the developer came forward. All everybody was asking for six years was transparency and information,” she said. “They weren’t willing to do that up until now. At least there can be a fair hearing of what’s being proposed and a fair evaluation.”
Hooper said construction activity at the site in recent years was undertaken to improve the accessibility of the area for conducting feasibility studies. Such activities were done with supervision and permitting of state and local agencies, he said.
“Change is inevitable, sometimes good and sometimes bad,” Hooper wrote in the application. “The development provides positive change that is mutually beneficial. Approval of the development as requested will go a long way toward assisting Wheeling in promotion of the assets of the area and in its evolution into a more modern, attractive and sustainable community.”
Application documents are available on Wheeling’s website at wheelingwv.gov/special–area–plan, and three dimensional renderings of the proposed development can be viewed at gcp-dev.com.
The Planning Commission meets at 5 p.m. Monday in City Council’s chambers on the first floor of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St.