Weston Making the Moves on Comprehensive Plan

Repost from Melissa Toothman, The Exponent Telegram –

WESTON — Many people have been working together to help Weston implement its comprehensive plan.

The plan was finalized and approved in 2014, Mayor Julia Spelsberg said.

“It’s a blueprint of where we want to go,” she said. “It was based on people in public meetings, on surveying and what the people here want.”

The city has had help in reaching the goals outlined in the plan, which was developed by the Weston Planning Commission with help from West Virginia University.

One of the plan’s goals is to encourage more people to come downtown, and local businesses have hosted events to do just that.

A chocolate tasting event on Valentine’s Day was a big hit, Spelsberg said. The tasting was a collaboration with Fairs and Festivals Committee members Fay Bell and Sheila Sayer, who coordinated the food.

“I think the heart of any town is in its sense of community, and it’s events like this that bring people together under positive circumstances to help build that community,” Sayer said. “It’s terribly critical in a small town. It helps you identify with the place and the people.”

(The Fairs and Festivals Committee also worked with the Creative Arts Center to make a new city logo.)

Spelsberg added that Museum of American Glass founder Dean Six is always doing his part to bring more people downtown.

The Arts Council of Weston has created cultural events that bring people together, as well, including Pickin’ in the Park, during which groups gather to play or listen to live music performed by anyone who chooses to participate.

Spelsberg said another goal of the comprehensive plan is to beautify Weston. To help reach that goal, the Arts Council will host a Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 20.

“The previous garden tour brought visitors from surrounding counties and states to our community, as did the Christmas Tour of Homes,” Chamber of Commerce Director Sherry Lambert said.

Lambert’s home will be included in this year’s garden tour.

The city is collaborating with St. Patrick’s Church and Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital on a 5K event.

Obesity is an issue that concerns residents, Spelsberg said, and holding a 5K not only helps address that concern by encouraging physical activity, but it also brings runners to Weston from other areas.

Another goal identified in the comprehensive plan is to have a community playground in each ward of the city, so there will be one within walking distance for every city resident.

With the creation of a new natural playground and the rebirth of another, three of four city wards will have finished playgrounds as early as this summer, Spelsberg said.

Another goal of the comprehensive plan is to address vacant and dilapidated buildings in the city. Some of those buildings have come down within the past couple of years, but there are others still some standing, Spelsberg said.

The plan also calls for encouraging new businesses to move into Weston. Spelsberg said there is a new Mexican restaurant on Main Avenue, and new boutiques are coming to both Second Street and Main Avenue.

There is still plenty of work that needs to be done to accomplish the goals in the 10-year comprehensive plan.

“The next step is to talk about the land use management plan, or the awful word ‘zoning,’ because Weston has no zoning,” Spelsberg said. “Many of us feel that to be able to progress on any level, you have to have things in place to protect landowners.”

She said the city will begin with a basic zoning plan, identifying manufacturing, commercial and residential areas.

Zoning is key to Weston residents’ quality of life, according to Spelsberg.

“We are just looking for a plan that would really protect the people here,” she said. “For example, you wouldn’t want a slaughterhouse next to your house on a nice street. But right now we have nothing in place that would protect you.”

Staff writer Melissa Toothman can be reached at (304) 626-1445 or by e-mail at mtoothman@theet.com