Encouraging WJU Plans for Growth

Institutions of higher learning have been leaders in economic development in Ohio County. Because the growth they bring is highly desirable – no one complains about pollution by a college or university, for example – it should be supported wherever and whenever possible.

Earlier this year, Wheeling Jesuit University officials announced plans to construct new student/faculty housing at a site on Washington Avenue. Doing so will require the city to approve a change in the site’s zoning designation.

WJU had sought a designation for educational, medical and office use. But Planning Commission members do not seem inclined to recommend that to City Council. The designation would allow construction of buildings as tall as six stories.

Instead, commission members are considering a high-density residential designation. That would allow for buildings as high as three stories, the size proposed by the university.

For now, that compromise may be appropriate. As Planning Commission member Barry Crow pointed out, for WJU to grow, “they need housing.”

Should the university’s plan change – perhaps with consideration of an office or two in the planned new building – city officials should attempt to accommodate WJU. Again, it and other institutions of higher learning in Ohio County have been engines of economic development, something our area needs badly.