Members of the Woodsdale United community group stressed the importance of the neighborhood's hillside to the health, safety and economic well-being of residents during a public meeting Thursday night at the Ohio County Library.
Those speaking for the group also denied they are opposed to any development of the hillside. Woodsdale United formed earlier this year when GC&P Development filed a request with the Wheeling Planning Commission to develop 95 acres on the hillside bordering Woodsdale and Greggsville. The company did not say what type of development it wished to do on the hillside.
The permit was later denied by the planning commission, and the rejection was not overturned by Wheeling City Council.
Photo by Joselyn King
Karen Kangisser, left, and Sharon Travis show the T-shirts and signs available to those supporting the Woodsdale United neighborhood organization. The T-shirts are being sold to fund the printing of signs and other materials needed by the organization.
"We're already here, and we're already invested," said Wendy Scatterday, a resident and member of Woodsdale United. "We want what is best for Wheeling."
Group member Mary Ellen Cassidy told those present many municipalities are investing in building community forests because they see the value in them.
Wooded hillsides absorb large amounts of water resulting from storms and help to prevent water runoff, land erosion and landslides, she continued.
She added trees also provide many clean air benefits to a community.
Currently, those in Woodsdale are getting those water runoff and clean air protections for free, Cassidy noted.
"But does this mean we should never develop the hillside - absolutely not," she said. "We just need to be aware of the costs. There has to be smart growth. ... If these trees are not there, we'll have to pick up the tab."
Scatterday said there are practical implications for those in Woodsdale to having the wooded hillside. Most homeowners' insurance policies don't contain coverage for damage caused by water runoff, erosion and landslides, she said.
Jeremy McGill, forestry investigation specialist with the West Virginia Division of Forestry, spoke during the meeting about the agency's role. He reminded those present that if they hear logging operations happening in their neighborhood and suspect they might not have legal permits, they should call the agency's Region 1 office in Farmington, W.Va., at 304-825-6983.