Granville, Westover present annexation plans to county commission

MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission took receipt of two annexation requests — one from Westover and one from Granville — during its regular Wednesday meeting.

In Westover’s case, the city is looking to annex just under 400 acres from mile marker 153 on Interstate 79 to mile marker 155 — essentially from WestRidge to the Westover exit. It also encompasses an area behind the Morgantown Mall, including the FedEx facility, and stretches along parts of Lawless Road.

Westover’s request looks to be the more straightforward of the two in that it’s annexation by petition, meaning it’s mutually agreed upon by the city and the Lynch family, WestRidge’s developers.

Westover Mayor Dave Johnson explained that this is actually the first of two phases of WestRidge annexation, noting “It’s a big deal for the city.”

“We’re out there already with the Gateway at the Star City exit, and we have the [Morgantown] mall and that property around the mall. Everything we’re speaking about with WestRidge is between the two, so this will make it contiguous all the way through,” Johnson said.

This initial phase is expected to encompass much of the anticipated retail business. Ryan Lynch previously said the first retail shops around exit 153 will open in spring 2020.

Phase II, while larger in terms of acreage, is anticipated to contain development more in line with office space.

As for Granville, the town is looking to annex rights of way, including Route 19 from the Star City Bridge to 507 Scotts Run Road (Granville Fire Department Station 2), Lady Bug Lane, Scotts Run Road from the municipal line to Lady Bug Lane and Chaplin Road from Westover’s municipal boundary to the intersection of Route 19.

The request is very similar to annexation efforts denied by the commission in August of 2017.

Just as in 2017, Granville is looking to annex by minor boundary adjustment, meaning there is a checklist of requirements the commission must look into.

Unlike last time, however, Granville has removed all business and residential properties, focusing solely on rights of way. Additionally, this attempt comes with the blessing of the  West Virginia Division of Highways.

Granville Town Administrator Ron Snyder explained that the reasoning behind the push for annexation remains unchanged.

While the University Town Centre is part of the Granville, its  first responders must leave the city’s jurisdiction to access it.

Further, the town can’t currently spend funds on the fire department property on Scotts Run Road as it falls outside its municipal boundaries.

“We want to turn that into a training center for first responders. There’s nothing around here like it. The fire departments could use it, the police departments could use it, even public works could use it,” Snyder said. “I would love to get the state fire school back here. That brings in hundreds of first responders who also utilize local businesses and restaurants.”

Granville is the only municipality other than Morgantown with paid firefighters.

In other news, the commission:

— Heard from Duane Nichols, of the Mon Valley Clean Air Coalition, and James Kotcon, representing the West Virginia Sierra Club, who asked that any agreements with Longview Power pertaining to future expansion include specific provisions for environmental protections and be negotiated with public input.

— Heard from Floodplain Administrator/GIS Coordinator Mike Paugh about FEMA updating floodplain boundaries within the county.

Floodplain maps can be viewed at Paugh’s office,  Room 110 of the county courthouse. The number is 304-413-0291.

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