The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

December 13, 2012

Mount Hope buzzing with projects

MOUNT HOPE — The sound of jack hammers ring out in Mount Hope as several construction projects buzz toward completion, reported the town’s mayor at Tuesday evening’s council meeting.

“We have projects going on all over this community,” said Michael Martin. “I’ve never seen it busier in this community.”

Between a dilapidated housing demolition project, floodplain buyout, waterline extension and resurfacing of Main Street, the town has things going on “everywhere you turn,” added Martin.

Zane Summerfield of Pentree Engineering reports that a new water tank to support the town’s supplying water to the Summit Bechtel Reserve should be erected by Dec. 21. Two thousand feet of water line extension to the Boy Scout property was completed last month; rock has slowed down progress.

Very soon, the town’s new comprehensive plan will be made available to the public for comment. The document, when finalized, will guide the town’s future land use and zoning ordinances by articulating the town’s values and goals when it comes to issues like transportation, housing or economic development.

The plan will be posted on the town’s website and copies will be available at the library and city hall. Martin assures residents that “everyone who needs to weigh in on this document will have a chance to weigh in.”

Before the plan is formally adopted, it must be presented to the town’s planning commission and undergo a public review process.

“Without the buy-in of the community, it’s not the community’s document,” said Martin.

At Tuesday’s meeting, W.D. Smith of the Region 4 Planning and Development Council made a presentation about the soon-to-be-formed Fayette/Raleigh Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which includes Mount Hope.

MPOs are federally mandated transportation planning councils that are required as a condition of receiving federal highway and transit funding in urbanized areas. The creation of the Fayette/ Raleigh MPO was triggered by 2010 census results that showed that the Beckley/Fayette urbanized area has exceeded 50,000 people.

Composed of mayors, county commissioners and other local leaders, the MPO will create long- and short-range transportation plans. They will also coordinate with the state on transportation project selection and advancement, including road, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian projects.

Any project in the area using federal dollars must receive the approval of this new unit of government, which joins seven others around the state.

The federal government pays for 80 percent of the planning costs; the state pays for 10 percent; and local governments must raise the rest. The $64,000 local match from counties and municipalities is based on a rate of $1 per citizen.

For Mount Hope, that means a contribution of approximately $1,400 in the next budget cycle.

Council also approved $200 in supplemental pay for each full-time town employee and approved the scrapping of an old water tank that is not in use.

—E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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