BECKLEY, W.Va. — A public hearing held Tuesday night for a petition by the Town of Mabscott to annex a stretch highway packed the Raleigh County ceremonial courtroom.

The proposal would have taken a roughly 1.5 mile stretch of U.S. Route 16, also known as Robert C. Byrd Drive, into Mabscott. The proposed section began at the intersection with Fearn Street and ended at the I-77 interchange.

This change would have allowed Mabscott police, fire and public works to respond to emergency calls. Opponents of the action were concerned Mabscott would use the highway as a speed trap.

Mabscott Mayor Wayne Houck said this would not be possible due to the town’s class four municipality designation, prohibiting them from using radar on controlled access roads.

“We would just be providing services to folks that are using the road to enhance public safety. That’s the purpose of the annexation.”

Other concerns involved businesses or residences along the route. Raleigh County Commissioner Dave Tolliver explained in a previous interview with MetroNews affiliate WJLS properties would not be affected at this point.

“They are petitioning just to take the road in. Any property owner can object to any minor boundary adjustment or annexation. The only person that really can object to it is Department of Highways because they are the property owner of the road.”

Eric Shrewsbury owns Computer Wiz along the route that was proposed to be annexed. He told the commission he has created a petition that garnered around 800 signatures against the proposal.

“The county and State Police already patrol this road very well. I see them on a daily basis. I have not found one person that thought this was a good idea.”

Roughly ten residents spoke at the hearing with only one in favor of the annexation. Ron Martin is a retired school bus driver who said the extra police presence from Mabscott could help deter people from speeding and running red lights.

“They’re not running the lights at 40 miles an hour. If you don’t drive a bus, at 40 miles an hour it takes 200 feet to stop it. We’ve got log trucks flying up through there.”

After closing the public hearing, the commission voted unanimously against the annexation. The Town of Mabscott can now appeal the commission’s decision to the Raleigh County Circuit Court.

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