Harpers Ferry has made history yet again! On 16 November, the Municipal Home Rule Board unanimously voted to accept Harpers Ferry into the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program. This is a huge achievement, and a very historic moment, as the Corporation of Harpers Ferry is now the very first Class IV municipality in the State of West Virginia to be granted Home Rule! Thank you to all who helped bring this to fruition so quickly, especially Mayor Gregory Vaughn and WVU Extension Historian & Archivist Chad Proudfoot. Mr Proudfoot has worked closely with the Town government since July, not only on home rule, but also on recovery from the fire in Lower Town.
The Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program was created by the West Virginia Legislature in 2007 and offers broad-based authority to participating municipalities by allowing them to implement ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations without regard to state laws, with the exception that proposals must comply with the United States and West Virginia constitutions and federal law, as well as Chapters 60A, 61, and 62 of the West Virginia Code. In March 2015, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 323, which mandates that four Class IV municipalities (those with fewer than 2,000 residents) must be permitted to participate in the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program. More information regarding West Virginia home rule can be found on the Department of Commerce site here.
As part of the requirements for applying for home rule, municipalities must draft a plan for presentation to the Municipal Home Rule Board. Harpers Ferry's plan (which can be read here) identifies four powers the Town seeked to gain, which it will now pursue implementation of: improvements to code citation and public nuisance enforcement; improvements to the process for addressing blighted properties; municipal authority to dispose of property without auctions; and authority to enact a 1% municipal sales tax, which would be coupled with a reduction in Business & Occupation (B&O) tax.
The Planning Commission formally recommended a proposed amendment to create a (hotel) overlay and to amend the Zoning Map for the overlay boundaries following a public hearing on 8 October. Council held its public hearing on Saturday, 5 December. The Council recommended several changes to the ordinance and to the proposed boundaries to the Commission. Planning's recommendations in response can be found at its external site here. A supplement to the PC Study & Findings has also been prepared and can be found at the external site. The September 2013 PC Study & Findings – upon which this concept has been based – can be found here.
The historic Harpers Ferry Commercial Business District suffered a significant loss by fire on Thursday, 23 July 2015, affecting four privately owned properties, nine businesses, two tenants, and 45 displaced employees. A special page has been created by the Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Historic Town Foundation containing information related to the fire recovery, including who to contact, how to donate, and what resources may be available. Visit this useful page on the Foundation's website by clicking here.
A document has been drafted for comments concerning residential parking signs, along with sign locations and recommendations. To read the document, click here.
The Corporation has released a list of operators and companies licensed to perform business in Harpers Ferry. These businesses have volunteered to appear on this public list. To review the list, click here.
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