Putnam landowners seek court action to reverse zoning change

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several property owners in Frazier’s Bottom have taken legal action to try and stop a change in zoning for a piece of property they fear will have a negative impact on their quality of life and their property values.

The petition involved action in which a 37-acre tract of land in the Putnam County community of Frazier’s Bottom was rezoned from a C-1 Suburban Commercial District to a C-2 High Density Commercial District. The change would permit, among other things, operation of a high number of tractor trailers or other traffic in an area 24/7. The C-1 designation typically does not authorize operation of high traffic and noise around the clock. The adjustment was requested by property owner David Hobba, a member of the Putnam County Planning Board. Hobba recused himself from the discussion and vote which advanced the measure to the Putnam County Planning Commission.

Residents have maintained the development plans include an Amazon distribution center.

In November, the planning commission agreed to recommend the rezoning approval to the Putnam County Commission following a public hearing. They county commission took action to authorize the rezoning after a December public hearing.

Residents spoke out at the meetings.

Karen Thaxton lives directly across from the property. She said she’s disappointed the commission won’t be protecting her historic home and many others in the area.

“This Amazon Distribution Center would be more beneficial to Putnam County at an appropriate site, not on a two-lane road with a traffic count of 1,574 cars daily, 10 miles from the interstate, in the center of five subdivisions,” Thaxton said.

During those public hearings it was never divulged why the change was necessary or what type of business was being courted for the property. Hobba could not reveal the information when asked due to a non-disclosure agreement with his client.

Landowners and residents near the property believe the county’s planners and county commissioners made a mistake in allowing the zoning change.

“Our clients are area residents and business owners and have been there a long time. They simply believe the proper considerations were not taken and there were some outstanding issues that need to be addressed,” said attorney Max Gottlieb who represents the property owners.

Gottlieb has filed a petition in Putnam County Circuit Court seeking reconsideration of the change. He said the county commission and planning commission were unable to make an informed decision by not knowing all of the facts of what kind of business planned to locate on the site.

“We believe for a decision like this there needs to be full and transparent information made available to the people it’s going to effect, which is people who live around there, people of Frazier’s Bottom, and people of Putnam County. We’re not sure that occurred,” he said.

Gottlieb said they want the court to tell the county commission they got it wrong and the requested zoning amendment should not be granted.

“We would also be fine with the court acknowledging the Commission did not take into account everything it needed to and it may get a second shot,” he added.





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