City denies rezoning request, observes Juneteenth holiday

BUCKHANNON — All members of Buckhannon’s City Council met Thursday to discuss strategic issues and hear reports from several departments.

Before beginning agenda items, Council discussed President Joe Biden’s decision to sign into law a bill that proclaims Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Governor Jim Justice adopted this into state law, requiring municipalities to amend this holiday into their list of observed celebrations. After discussion on the financial repercussions of an additional holiday, City Council approved the motion to amend their holiday list to include Juneteenth, which will be observed on June 18 in the City of Buckhannon.

Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus along with Wellness and Child Nutrition Director Eddie Vincent appeared before the Council to discuss their plans for the Summer Learning Academy taking place at each school. Beginning last week, each school is fully operational four days a week, providing extra educational time for students, as well as endless activities, field trips, and courses. Over 1,000 students are reportedly participating in summer education this year.

Vincent also explained the process in which students are being fed during the summer months. Continuing from the school year, students are provided meal boxes every Wednesday, now including 14 meals total for 7 days—available for pickup at each school destination. In addition, all schools are open during lunch time to provide a hot lunch to any student. Stankus and Vincent strongly encourage students and families to take advantage of these opportunities. They were commended and applauded by Council for their efforts in caring for students, all year long.

Following, Jerry Arnold provided a report for the Consolidated Public Works Department. He elaborated on several sewage, sidewalk, and storm drain repairs. The North Spring Street project continues, as well as the roof replacement on City Hall. Arnold also proposed the renaming of the construction access road on Brushy Fork, to Raella Lane, mapping the location next to the new Armory building. The request was approved by Council.

Next, Amberle Jenkins gave a brief Finance report. She discussed the balances of the 2021 FY General Funds budget, and highlighted recent expenses and bills paid by the City. She is working to access the cost of replacing doors at City Hall, and also notified Council that an Auditor will be attending the next City Council meeting. Her report was approved by Council.

Finally, City Attorney Tom O’Neill settled a long-going dispute regarding a rezoning request at 67 Kanawha Street. After the owner requested a change in the property’s designation from a Residential to Commercial lot with plans to build a 24-hour access bank, the matter sparked controversy amongst surrounding residents. O’Neill explained that rezoning the property would constitute as “Spot Zoning,” which is illegal. The request to rezone the lot was denied by City Council.

Concluding board reports and agenda items, the meeting was adjourned. the next City Council meeting will take place on Thursday, July 1 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.


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