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State board rejects St. Albans’ Home Rule application

By By Matthew Hill
For the Gazette

The state’s Municipal Home Rule Board rejected an application from the city of St. Albans because of technical issues, the City Council learned Monday evening. City officials and residents expressed their disappointment at the council’s regular meeting.

Mayor Dick Callaway said the board determined St. Albans had not held its two required public hearings in a timely manner.

“The hearings we had were scheduled later than what the legislation had called for. The committee decided, in its discretion, that this was enough to disavow our application,” Calloways said. “We were very disappointed to see that.”

The program shifts power from the state to the local level and gives municipalities a larger say in how they govern.

It began as a five-year pilot program in Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling. Last year, the Legislature continued the program until July 1, 2019. St. Albans was one of 23 applicants for 16 slots.

Callaway insisted that the city will try again for Home Rule when or if the opportunity arises, noting that city officials were “all a little disappointed. It didn’t cost us anything to try. We will move forward. All of us are saddened about that. Life is life.”

City resident Dave Rucker pressed the mayor about media reports that the board had contacted the city about issues with the application. According to those reports, Rucker asserted, the city had not replied to the board for over a month. “Is the media not accurate?” Rucker asked.

Callaway said the city attorney replied to the board’s letter last week. “Apparently, they didn’t like our answers, best that I could tell. The application was in three days before it was due. The execution of the hearings was the problem.”

The mayor said he hopes future legislation could make room for more cities to apply or for previously rejected applicants to make their case once more.

In other business:

N Council members unanimously enacted an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a renewal agreement regarding the Charleston/Kanawha Housing Consortium for fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The 15-year-old agreement provides about $1 million in federal money to assist first-time home buyers.

N City council unanimously agreed to draft a resolution for the next meeting’s agenda that would signal the city’s support for the $3 million Kanawha County Public Library levy appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot.

N Thomas asked Ward 4 neighborhood-watch volunteer Emily Wall to speak to council members and invite them and the public to National Night Out for safety, taking place tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Mayberry’s restaurant parking lot.

N Ward 8’s Kevin Pennington announced that pool parties will be held the next two Fridays at the city park. On Aug. 15, the pool party will be followed by a showing of the 1993 movie “The Sandlot.” The following evening, after dark, Roadside Park will host and WMXE-FM will sponsor a documentary on the classic-rock band Journey.

N Council members paid current invoices in the amount of $18,850.47.

St. Albans City Council will meet again at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 18.

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