Morgantown City Council discusses Cobun Creek reservoir progress

MORGANTOWN — Proposed planning and zoning changes pertaining to mixed-use developments and veterinary clinics, as well as supplemental resolutions for a pair of Morgantown Utility Board (MUB)projects, will be before Morgantown City Council in the coming weeks after appearing on the most recent committee of the whole agenda.

MUB General Manager Tim Ball said that a long-awaited permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is in hand, and work will begin soon on the $48 million project to build a new Cobun Creek Reservoir to serve as an emergency water source for the utility’s customers.

In order to do so, however, a supplemental resolution is needed that will plug in details that were not available when the original bond issue was passed by council.

To avoid duplication of costs, Ball said the resolution will also include about $700,000, rolled over from 2017, that will be used to address various storm water projects.

A supplemental resolution is also needed for a water line extension on Rockley Road, in the Cheat Lake area, after a slide impacted the scope of the utility’s project.

Ball said MUB was within days of starting work when the slide broke loose along the planned route of the new line, forcing the use of a longer, alternate route.

The West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council (IJDC) is financing the project through equal parts grant and loan. Ball said the IJDC  agreed to increase the amount of both by about $125,000 — thus the need for the supplemental resolution.

The IJDC loan will be repaid through a surcharge on the water bills of the 20 households receiving service. Ball said  the slip bumped that surcharge from $57.25 to $77.69. He said the homeowners in question already agreed to pay as much as $88.18.

MUB Spokesperson Chris Dale said bond sales for both projects are projected for late June, pending council approval. He said work should begin on both by early-to-mid August.

In other city news, Director of Development Services Chris Fletcher said proposed changes regarding mixed-use developments are a continuation of a process that began in 2016.

He explained the changes are intended “to address frequently requested and approved variances, clarify regulatory intentions and remedy inconsistent or potentially confusing provisions.”

The list of proposed changes is lengthy and can be found in its entirety, along with the draft ordinance, on the city’s website, morgantownwv.gov.

Just a few of the proposed changes regarding mixed-used developments include:

  • The establishment of a minimum two-story building height, as well as floor-to-floor height and transparency standards.
  • The clarification of what constitutes nonresidential component spaces and what residential amenity spaces are, as well as the exclusion of amenity spaces when calculating nonresidential component space.
  • The elimination of the current maximum standard of 60 percent for nonresidential component space of the ground floor area.

Fletcher said the changes “represent a careful, steady and thorough endeavor over the past 18-plus months,” explaining that changes to one aspect of the code typically impacts several others.

“It’s like a mercury bubble. When you stick your thumb on it, something pops up on the other side.”

Council will also consider allowing veterinary clinics in the city’s PRO (professional, residential, office) districts by conditional use approval.

The request comes by way of Cheat Lake Animal Hospital, which hopes to place a clinic for cats and small exotic animals at 1830 Listravia Ave., in Sabraton.

Fletcher said conditional use approval would come with stipulations, including the prohibition of outdoor kennels.

Council moved each of the above issues forward for consideration.

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