Modifications, Rezoning Dominate Huntington Council First Reads

Updated 11 weeks ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Brianne Shell explained St. Mary's rezoning requests
Brianne Shell explained St. Mary's rezoning requests

Huntington City Council will consider tweaking one of its ordinances that delineates the range of meetings in Council Chambers and those that must be televised.

Councilman Col. Gary Bunn has long voiced that “we should not be locked in to council chambers,” such as if an overflow of attendees occurs. However, as amended, the ordinance allows “allowances for increased capacity and taking government to (each ) district.”

Bunn suggested that the city’s legislative body should have the option to bring government to council districts, just as the West Virginia Supreme Court often takes to the road and meets in session , for instance, on the Marshall University campus.

City attorney Scott McClure indicated that the City Charter allows “meetings to be held elsewhere,” adding that there is not a “legal obligation” under the charter to televise.

McClure’s explanation suggested that televising of a meeting is not a required open meeting component. For instance, he opined the failure to televise would not invalidate the decisions at a meeting. Under the open meetings law, failure to hold a public meeting does invalidate decisions.

Further, he said that ad-hoc and/or investigation meetings are not required for broadcast.

Council asked about whether “live” broadcast is necessary. McClure said that was likely a convenience. None of the members inquired about the logistics of a tape delayed broadcast or even the feasibility of remote internet streaming.

The matter comes for its first reading on Monday July 14. Public comment will be heard at the July 28 session.

 

ST MARY’S

 

The Planning Commission has recommended that 2788  Collis Avenue be rezoned from R2 to C1 and that 111 28th Street be modified from R4 to C1 for St. Mary’s Hospital expansion.

 

According to Brianne Shell, city planner,  the hospital (and the city’s #1 employer) wants to utilize the former Highlawn Baptist Church property for administrative offices.

 

Shell told the work session of council , “at this time” the hospital intends to use the former church facilities “as they now exist.”

 

Neighbors, according to Shell, expressed questions about “what St. Mary’s has in mind” for the property.

 

Councilman Gary Bunn said in the long run, “we are allowing our major employer to expand.”

 

One residential property remains land locked in the neighborhood. Bunn explained that the owner declined previous offers from the church, leaving the sole family dwelling.


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