Morgantown taking public feedback on annexation plans

MORGANTOWN — If you have thoughts on Morgantown’s plan to bring 3.8 square miles of additional property into its boundaries using annexation by minor boundary adjustment, the city wants to hear from you.
A month-long public feedback period begins today and ends June 30.
The annexation plan and related information is available online at bit.ly/mgwannex. Hard copies can be picked up at Morgantown City Hall (city manager or city clerk offices), the Morgantown Public Library and the Monongalia County Senior Center, located in the Mountaineer Mall.
Comments can be submitted via email to info@morgantownwv.gov. Written comments can be mailed to Morgantown City Hall at 389 Spruce Street, Room 16. If mailed, mark the envelope ATTN: Communications Office.
The annexation effort is expected to bring approximately 12,830 residents, 367 businesses  — 26 of which are tax exempt — and 43 miles of roads into the city.
The additional land, including retail-heavy areas like Suncrest Towne Centre and the Mileground, would grow the city’s 10.5 square-mile footprint by about 36%.
Estimates indicate the city would generate an additional $7.8 million annually through business and occupation taxes, user fees, fire fees and property taxes.
The cost of additional personnel and equipment to service those areas — including police, fire and street maintenance — is estimated at $4.3 million annually, resulting in a gross annual increase of about $3.5 million according to projections laid out in the city’s annexation plan.
The cost of bolstering city services to meet increased demand does not include one-time expenses, like the construction of new facilities. Should the annexation bid be successful, the city’s plans include a new joint police/fire substation, estimated at $5.5 million.
City Manager Paul Brake has previously noted annexation efforts are complex and often contentious.
Ron Dulaney, council’s 5th Ward representative, said that may be the case, but he’s hopeful everyone potentially impacted by the city’s efforts will speak out — regardless of which side they take.
“Some folks already have their minds made up. Not everybody is going to be happy with this, but I think we need to get the best information out there, have a dialogue and then be responsive to what we’re hearing,” Dulaney said, explaining he has no expectation of what the public feedback will look like.
“I don’t know, and honestly, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is to provide the opportunity and to really listen, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.”
Along with the public feedback period, Dulaney said he wouldn’t be comfortable supporting an annexation plan that didn’t also include public forums as a part of the process.
Going forward, the city has a tentative timeline in place that would put its annexation application before the Monongalia County Commission sometime in August.
The commission will hold a public hearing on the annexation application before evaluating the request on seven criteria spelled out in West Virginia Code 8-6-5.
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