ROANOKE, WV - The Second Annual Mountain State Land Use Academy Statewide Conference was held on May 2-3, 2017 at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia, organized by the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at the West Virginia University College of Law, in partnership with the West Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association. The annual conference is the largest gathering of professional land use planners and citizen planners in the state. The plenary sessions focused on rural planning, planning for floods, and the planning accomplishments of several communities in the state. Breakout sessions covered a wide range of land use planning issues and were led by leading experts on the issues in West Virginia.
One highlight of the conference was the presentation of two individual awards and one community award. The Joyce McConnell Award for Professional Contributions to Planning honors a land use planner, attorney, architect, engineer, local government staff person, or other professional who advances land use planning in the state of West Virginia through their professional work. This year’s winner, Jennifer M. Brockman, County Planner for Jefferson County, has over 25 years of land use experience in Kentucky, Colorado, and West Virginia. Ms. Brockman has guided the county through several major changes to the zoning ordinance and a complete update of the comprehensive plan. She also helped develop the county’s first future land use map. She is a leader in the land use planning community and is lauded by co-workers and community members for her kind and generous manner.
City of Charleston Councilwoman Mary Jean Davis is this year’s winner of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association Citizen Planner Award. This award honors a volunteer citizen planner for their work to advance land use planning in the state of West Virginia. Councilwoman Davis was first elected to City Council in 1999 and has been a guiding force in Charleston’s renaissance of the past two decades. She is an ardent proponent of land use planning, having served on and led numerous community groups and initiatives. Her countless volunteer hours have forever changed the landscape of West Virginia’s capital city.
Finally, the City of Weston was recognized with the Community Achievements in Planning Award. New this year, this award recognizes a community in the state that has compiled a remarkable level of community progress in several areas. A few years ago, the citizens of Weston took it upon themselves to draft a comprehensive plan. Without resources to hire a consultant or staff, the planning commission volunteered countless hours to draft a plan. The Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic took that very solid foundation and formalized an updated plan. Since that time, the city has established an Urban Renewal Authority to begin to address dilapidated and abandoned buildings. In addition, the city worked with West Virginia University to develop a branding program and has begun to draft its first zoning ordinance. Many of the goals set out in the comprehensive plan are being addressed and on the way to being accomplished.