By KARA MOORE
For the Daily Mail
WINFIELD — Two lots on Mount Vernon Road in Teays Valley will not be rezoned from residential to commercial after the owner withdrew his request.
“We feel at this time it is in everyone’s best interest that we respectfully request a withdrawal of our rezoning application today,” Timothy Spradling told the Putnam County Commission on Tuesday.
Spradling’s comments came at the opening of a second public hearing on the matter.
The Putnam County Planning Commission had an initial public hearing at 7 p.m. May 27, and county planner John Butterworth said many neighbors came out that night to oppose the change.
The planning office also received five written comments regarding the rezoning, Butterworth told the commission.
Residents cited storm water problems, traffic and safety concerns and encroaching commercial development among other issues.
The two parcels of land are 1006 and 1012 Mount Vernon Road, just off W.Va. 34 or Teays Valley Road. The parcel immediately beside the lots in question is zoned for commercial use, but it faces Teays Valley Road.
The planning commission recommended that commissioners deny the zoning change.
The final decision lies with the county commission, and it was during a procedural second public hearing before making that decision that Spradling asked to withdraw the request.
“After the planning commission meeting on May 27, my wife Dawn and I decided that we shared the same concerns and issues as the Putnam County Planning Commission and the residents living adjacent to our property at 1006 and 1012 Mounty Vernon Road,” Spradling said.
Spradling said he has been in contact with officials from agencies ranging from the state department of highways to Putnam County Schools to try and address the residents’ concerns about safety and water retention.
Spradling said he has coached football at Hurricane High School for seven years and raised money to build a playground at West Teays Elementary. He said he is a contractor who was worked with the county on installing sewer and water lines.
“I’m Putnam County’s No. 1 advocate for child safety,” Spradling said after the public hearing closed. “I was made out to look like a bad guy at the planning commission, and I just wasn’t prepared.”
The commission chamber was filled with area residents who had come prepared to fight the zoning change, including Joseph Amos, the president of Country Villas Homeowner’s Association, who presented a petition with 32 signatures from his neighborhood.
“I would like to thank Mr. Spradling and his wife for actually listening to the neighbors,” Amos said. “I think sometimes that is undervalued.”
Amos added that as long as there is commercial land available on Teays Valley Road, residential land should not be rezoned for commercial use.
In spite of the withdrawal, county attorney Jennifer Scragg Karr advised the commission that it needed to make a decision because the process had already come so far.
Commissioner Joe Haynes moved to deny the request based on the reasons provided by neighbors. Commission President Steve Andes seconded the motion and cited the recommendation by the planning commission as well as the petitioner’s withdrawal. Commissioner Andy Skidmore was absent.
Andes asked Spradling what he planned to do with the site, and he said he is now in negotiations to build duplexes there, which would not require a change in zoning.
The commission heard another zoning issue Tuesday related to acceptable signs.
Scott Depot Christ Fellowship, which is also called The Depot and runs Teays Valley Christian School for kindergarten through eighth grade, sought a change in the definition of allowable signs so it could upgrade the electronic message sign for the school.
The commission voted to change the definition to allow a wider variety of electronic signs. Both Haynes and Andes expressed a desire to make the county’s sign rules less restrictive.
In other news, commissioners voted to join the West Virginia Counties Risk Pool for property and liability insurance beginning July 1 rather than buying insurance on the private market.
In past years, commissioners have voted to keep their policies through a local agent at Payne and Garlow that were underwritten by Traveler’s Insurance.
Two years ago the pool’s quote was lower than Payne and Garlow’s, but the agent came back with a lower quote, which the county then accepted.
Last year, the risk pool did not submit a quote, so the county again stayed with Payne and Garlow.
This year, County Manager Brian Donat said the county actively solicited more quotes and received three: Payne and Garlow, the risk pool, and One Beacon. The risk pool was the lowest.
Commissioners reviewed all the quotes and decided to keep worker’s compensation coverage through Payne and Garlow from Brickstreet Insurance, but to take property and casualty insurance though the risk pool.
“I think it’s overdue,” Haynes said. “I think we should have done it several years ago personally.”
The total cost for the two policies is $484,901 for the year. The total cost had the county stayed with Payne and Garlow for property and casualty insurance would have been $599,972.
Skidmore, who was on a beach vacation, phoned in to make the motion to join the risk pool. The vote was unanimous.
The Putnam County Commission meets at 9 a.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the county courthouse in Winfield. All meetings are open to the public.