West Virginia Land Use Planning (1-WV-a)
Land Use Planning Process
1-WV-a.1 to 1-WV-a.2 — Is there a Comprehensive Land Use Plan in Place?
The developer should contact the local government to determine if there is a comprehensive land use plan in place for the site location.
The West Virginia Land Use Planning Code (Planning Code) encourages local governments to create a comprehensive land use plan, however it is not required. W. VA Code R. §8A-1-1(b). The Planning Code gives the local government the authority to create a planning commission and adopt a comprehensive land use and zoning plan. W. VA Code R. §8A-1-1(b), §8A-2-1(a). Planning commissions created under the Planning Code have the authority to prepare a comprehensive plan and advise the governing bodies. W. VA Code R. §8A-1-1(b), §8A-2-1, §8A-2-11(8). Municipal and county comprehensive land use plans provide context for determining if the proposed development activity is compatible with the community's overall development plans.
If there is a comprehensive land use plan in place, the developer should review the plans and any accompanying maps, studies, or other information in order to determine the goals and planning strategies of the local government and to ensure the proposed project it in compliance with the plan.
If there is no comprehensive land use plan in place, the developer should still review any applicable local government regulations that could restrict the proposed project.
1-WV-a.3 to 1-WV-a.5 — Does the Municipality or County have Zoning Regulations?
The local government body has the authority to enact a zoning ordinance. W. VA Code R. §8A-7-1(a). If there is a zoning plan, the developer should review the plans and other information to determine if the proposed project is in compliance with the zoning plan. If there is no zoning plan in place, the developer should still review applicable municipal and country zoning regulations to ensure the proposed project will comply with any development restrictions before continuing with the project.
1-WV-a.6 to 1-WV-a.8 — Determine if the Project Conforms with Local Zoning Regulations
If the locality has zoning regulations, the developer needs to determine whether the project conforms to the regulations. If the project is consistent with the regulations, the developer may continue with the projects as described in the regulations. If the project is not consistent with the regulations, the developer will need to follow the local government’s process for issuing a zoning variance or for amending the zoning regulations.
1-WV-a.9 — Contact Local Government for Zoning Variance or Amendment to Zoning Regulations
A developer should contact the local government, with jurisdiction over the proposed project site, to discuss the possibility of a zoning variance, or an amendment to a zoning regulation and the details of the regulatory process. Local governments have the authority to amend the entire comprehensive land use plan or parts of the plan. W. VA Code R. §8A-3-11(b). The local government, with recommendations from the planning commission, can make amendments to the zoning regulations at any time, as long as they are compatible with the local comprehensive plan and the Planning Code. W. VA Code R. §8A-7-8(a).
1-WV-a.10 — Petition for Zoning Variance or Amendment to Zoning Regulations
The developer should petition for a zoning variance or amendment in the manner prescribed by the local government.
1-WV-a.11 — Provide Notice of Public Hearing
The local government must publish notice of a proposed amendment to a zoning ordinance in the local newspaper and give written notice to landowners with property directly involved. W. VA Code R. §8A-7-8(b). The local government must hold two public hearings before enacting an amendment to a zoning ordinance. W. VA Code R. §8A-7-5(a). The amendment to the zoning ordinance must be consistent with the comprehensive land use plan and the Planning Code. W. VA Code R. §8A-7-8(a).
1-WV-a.13 — Proceed with Zoning Variance or Amendment Process
After the hearing, the municipal or county government and developer may proceed with the zoning variance or amendment process.
1-WV-a.14 — Appeal Decision (Optional)
Any aggrieved party may appeal a land use decision at the local circuit court within thirty (30) days of the decision or order. W. VA Code R. §8A-9-1(b).
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