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Finding a Way To Hold Hearing

Wheeling Planning Commission members acted prudently — the currently popular phrase is “out of an abundance of caution” — in canceling the public hearing they had scheduled for Monday.

At some point, however, delays in letting the public learn about and have its say regarding the GC&P Development proposal will have to end. If that requires inventive handling of a public meeting, so be it.

For many months, the GC&P plan to construct a huge development atop a hill overlooking Wheeling’s Woodsdale neighborhood has been controversial, to say the least. Planning Commission members had scheduled a public hearing on it earlier this year, but pulled the plug because of concerns about COVID-19. Just a few weeks ago, when it seemed the epidemic was on the wane, commissioners tried again. They scheduled a hearing for this evening at the White Palace in Wheeling Park. Appropriate public health safeguards including social distancing were to be in place.

But on Friday, commission members backed off, in the face of a resurgence of coronavirus infections. They issued a press release that the hearing was being postponed “in the interest of public health.”

We don’t blame them.

Commissioners plan to try again. During their Aug. 10 meeting, they will discuss options for a hearing “at a future date.”

No one can predict what course the revived epidemic will take. The idea of a room packed with people for a public hearing may remain unappealing for some time.

But the GC&P Development controversy has lingered too long already — again, through the fault of no one involved. It is time for Planning Commission members to devise some method of holding the hearing, electronically if no other means can be found. They should discuss that on Aug. 10.

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