The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

September 14, 2013

Mount Hope Council approves first reading of plan

By Cody Neff
The Register-Herald

MOUNT HOPE — Saying it is a plan to keep the city moving forward and moving into the future, Mount Hope Mayor Michael Martin led city council into approving the first reading of an ordinance that would put the city’s comprehensive plan into effect.

The approval put the city one step closer to its goal of improving life for everyone.

“The comprehensive plan is our plan as a city for moving forward and moving into the future,” Martin said. “What this should do for the Average Joe, if that Average Joe is a homeowner, is that he is going to see things in his community improve with the passage of time.

“His real estate values will improve and life in general will get better and just a little easier. We have aimed to head into the future in a direction that is going to head us toward jobs and prosperity and a friendly community to raise a family.”

City planning commission member Nonie Roberts added, “I would say more specifically it will give people more of an opportunity to participate. We have a very small city staff who have enough to do already so they can’t take on a whole lot more. This plan will allow people to come in on a volunteer basis and work with city government to make sure that things happen.”

Some of the things the community wants to have done by the plan’s goal year of 2030 are redeveloping the Mount Hope website so that people can pay bills, fill out forms and access government documents online.

For land use and community design, the plan will manage development on steep slopes. The plan says this limits future development on such terrain, but it will help decrease stormwater runoff, decrease erosion and make it so emergency vehicles can go just about anywhere.

According to the plan, with emergency vehicles unable to get to certain areas, homeowner insurance rates increase.

As far as housing and neighborhood design go, the plan has goals of removing structures that pose a safety hazard and lower the quality of the surrounding neighborhood.

For safety, the plan will set up a neighborhood watch and install police call-boxes along popular walking routes.

For economic development, the plan will build on the strengths of the community and develop a “cultural and historic tourism-based economy” that will develop Mount Hope into an “Arts” community.

The plan also will restore and/or renovate several historic Mount Hope sites including the YMCA Building, Mountainaire Hotel, Clinton Apartments, New River Company Store, City Clock, Stadium, Princess Theater and First National Bank. The YMCA building will be upgraded and turned into the Mount Hope Community Center.

As part of the plan to improve quality of life for people in the city, access to health care will be increased and a Seniors Fitness Trail will be built as part of the Greenway and Parks System.

There are many more goals and plans for the City of Mount Hope and city officials say every one of them has been well-received.

“The most controversial thing we had was what to call the houses on the historic walking tour,” city attorney Anna Ziegler said with a laugh. “I don’t recall any controversy.”

“There hasn’t been any controversy, but then again we haven’t gotten radical here,” Martin added. “We’re not a radical crew. We try to stay in the mainstream and the idea is to do what’s best for everybody. This is the community’s plan. This isn’t the city council’s plan. This isn’t the planning commission’s plan. This is the community’s plan.”

A unanimous vote approved the first reading of the ordinance to adopt the comprehensive plan. The second reading of the ordinance and adoption of the plan is set for the next Mount Hope city council meeting on Oct. 8.

To read a full version of the comprehensive plan, paper copies are available at Mount Hope’s public library, City Hall or Housing Authority. The plan is also available for download from Mount Hope’s city website, www.cityofmounthope.org.

— E-mail: cneff@register-herald.com