During a special meeting held on Monday, 2 November, the Town Council approved first reading of an ordinance concerning home rule for the Corporation of Harpers Ferry.
Ordinance 2015-10 (which can be found here) authorizes and directs the Mayor to submit a proposal for home rule for the Corporation of Harpers Ferry. 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. Harpers Ferry is the first Class IV municipality to pursue home rule. 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 identifies four powers it seeks to gain: 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 draft plan for Harpers Ferry, which Council hopes to submit for the Board's December session, can be read here.
The Planning Commission is has 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 has scheduled its Public Hearing for Saturday, 5 December and will post the text at some point. Meanwhile, Planning's recommendation 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 when available. The September 2013 PC Study & Findings – upon which this concept has been based – can be found here.
On Saturday, 14 November, at 9:30 a.m., the Town Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint workshop to review the Study and Findings, as well as Planning's final draft of the Promontory Overlay District ordinance (click here to view the ordinance) and the proposed associated changes to the zoning map (click here to view the map). Members of the public are welcome to attend and listen, but not speak, during the workshop.
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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