I came across this link on webshots and the more I look at it the more it seems the author is taking cheap shots at WV for being lower income based and that because we don't have the city life here that we are some lower or non educated can't make enough money rednecks. I'll withhold more comments because alot of the pictures you see here are areas where I do computer work for customers and they are some great people there.http://community.webshots.com/album/281077182hxohyr/0
On the flip side, it's a GREAT visual tour of this area for you DCSki folk.
He's taking some shots, but I think it is probably all in good fun w/out any malicious intent. It's like how College Park and UMD is the ghetto full of classless thugs to any fans of schools like WVU, NCSU, and Clemson.
Looked at the pictures, could have been worse. Noted that photographer spelled "trailer" as "trailor" several times...so not a typo. Maybe my comment represents a "cheap shot return volley".
The dude (the one that took those photos that is) is a prick. Repeated trips to Telluride, some kind of Harvard-Yale reunion, etc. But, fine, let him mock WV- I'd rather have folks like him not showing up there than infesting the state. Everytime someone back in DC starts making fun of WV, I just nod and smile and say "you're right, there's nothing there. Don't go there. It sucks. Yup yup yup."
I guess that is what makes me a true WVian for life, laughing about the cousins marrying cousins (I kid you NOT, that happened 8 years ago in my high school class) jokes, but at the same time really getting the hair on my back standing up when someone starts classifying (intentionally or not) the status of families based on their living quarters. I have some family members who live in trailers simply because their income doesn't allow for more. But you know what the flip side of that is? Those folks like many who have certain dwellings are extremely happy about them because it's more than what their parents and grandparents ever had.
Although those pictures outside the authors comments really do show some great aspects of WV.
Check out the Mt Washington shots - hiking Mt Washington in mid-October covered in snow and ice wearing hiking boots (no-crampons) and blue jeans. There is a reason Mt Washington is the deadliest mountain in the US - people like these guys hiking totally unprepared for conditions. They're lucky they're not statistics. Ok, that's my return cheap shot!
Scratch the skin of the person who put that up and you will find some loser who has to make themself feel better by putting someone else down.
Yeah, Brad, I hear ya. There's a lot of folks living a real good life in Southwest Virginia. *IF* you can get a job pretty much any salary will do in most areas down here. Of course, that's the catch: jobs aren't easy to come by.
We had to do a survey of a nearby village and an interesting dichotomy came up. A lot of folks- including the janitor for our department- live out in this village and simply don't have the money to keep their houses up. But he does have a trampoline and a go-kart for his eight year old daughter, who seems to be living la vida loca right now. But there are others who live out in that village and complain about the less well maintained houses and say it makes their area "ugly." Most of the folks that do this complaining live back in three acre subdivisions on half million dollar properties and have moved there recently. Don't get me wrong, probably the majority of newcomers to this village aren't bothered by the more rundown houses. But the folks who are, invariably are the ones living in expensive houses. During our survey, I felt like asking them- you moved to a small village in southwest Virginia: what did you expect???
Not having a relatively unlimited supply of income forces you to priortize- and in making choices values come out differently than a lot of other folks might choose. That's called "diversity," and a little "tolerance" from folks like photo dude would be appreciated.
There is one thing that is happening here in Hardy County that has the beginnings of something scary for me. Hardy County is trying to pass zoning laws and would only be the third county in the state outside of Jefferson and Berkely I believe to have zoning laws. Our county commissioners seem bent on having this county raped of it's natural beauty and surroundings to open up and accept every last suburbian DCer to setup a subdivision back here. Having zoning in this area really is pointless outside of commissioners and other developers using it to their advantage. For example recent zoning maps have a 1 mile radius around Baker zoned as commercial / residential. Same with Wardensville and Mathias. Roger you'll love this... there was absolutely ZERO population densitity studies or any other studies conducted in order to decide what to zone each area as. The planning commissioner simply said "Well it seems like there is alot of people living in this area so we'll make it residential."
The whole reason this is scary is just like in Ohio last year a town mayor and board got a proposal from a developer who wanted to put a Wal-Mart / Mall in their town. The catch was that the proposed area had a quiet subdivision off a highway that dated back to the late 70's. The land owners were happy with their living situation, the homes were really nice, probably the 100k range, but 20+ years had taken it's toll. Some needed new roofs, some the landscaping was suffering due to the older folks living there. Anyway the town board decided to use emminent domain to condem the land for the private developer on the grounds that the properties weren't upto a zoning code and basically in so many words were..."ugly properties".
That scares the beejeebee's out of me thinking that our county commissioners would use zoning to it's worst potential. That is why I'm taking a serious look at running for County Commissioner here. The papers have to be filed by March 06. I would at least be running on 2 platforms. 1.) The platform of common sense and would without a second stand up against bad decisions by the others and be in the face vocal if I have to to protect innocent citizens. and 2.) Our county has 3 commissioners, when technically their should be 5. Wait till the public hears "Hey you are being misrepresented, time to make things right!"
I'm probably the only student in a planning department- or at least at the VT planning department- who isn't reflexively pro-zoning. I would like to study Houston more to understand the plusses and minuses in full detail before committing to their usefulness. But from what I understand, the market will drive zoning decisions ultimately, not vice-versa. Even places like Montgomery County, Maryland, zoning gets revised based on best use, and there may be some extremely contentious issues coming up with the open space as they revise their comp plan.
The real key isn't zoning, the key is understanding what you want as a county and what the best tools are to get it. Granted this- zoning is a big, BIG tool in planning, but it's not the only tool. Commercial is going to be determined in Hardy County not by zoning but rather by the location of, oh, four lane highways, high speed internet access, infrastructure to support it, etc. Just look at Tucker County in WV- they have an industrial park along Route 93 that has how many offices in it? One, maybe? As the pop grows in Hardy, businesses will follow. And if Hardy County tries to impose zoning without significant studies, their zones won't last five minutes in court. Not in the U.S. Fourth District.
As far as the eminent domain goes- that is an extremely complicated issue but there has been a heckuva lot of abuse with it lately. There's a case before the Supreme Court right now- Kelo v. New London- keep an eye on that. If New London gets overruled nothing like what happened in Ohio will ever happen again. I hope.
Roger - if you think zoning is a bad idea, I suggest you head down to Ocean City, MD and see what happens when we let the 'free market' determine what's built. I agree that everything has its' plusses and minuses and zoning, when restrictive, can drive up the cost of real estate. However, if you don't care about the quality of life where you live, oppose zoning and move to the ugliness that surrounds Houston.
RogerZ -- HAVE YOU BEEN to Houston? I have spent much time in Houston and its a complete and total disaster. It's not only an eye-sore but a jumbled mess of nearly unlivable sprawl. The roads system is a massively inefficient grid with 8 lines of parallel lanes with 2 lane lane feeder roads parallel on either side in some cases! Talk about confusing to the eyeballs with differing speeds all the way to far peripheral visiosn! Traffic is mostly run by poorly timed light systems off the main interstates. The zoning, i have heard NO zoning at all, -- what a joke. Here's is what you get: strip club, elementary school, church, wattaburger, gas station, industrial goop, fruit stand, etc...
The *only* possible plus -- super cheap worthless land that stretches to infinity and that's what the have there - an infinite horizon of nothing. the area is a near wasteland of nothingness... so i guess you have to do something to get people to put two sticks together! Who would want to live there? it offers little that i can tell...
The whole concept is contingent underneath on a super-cheap energy source .. OIL. When OIL goes houston will turn to dust rapidly. NO place to grow food around it much that isn't parched and hot mostly. Good for grazing cattle i guess on vast stretches of nothingness but not for growing crops - no food. and no one will be able to get anywhere cause its all spread out and far away... rediculous!
BTW I have been to c'burg, b'burg and radford many times -- and that place also gets credit for no freakin' idea how to maintain any sense of itself. The place is turning into eye-sored jumbledmess between 'em... it's a DISASTER on every level.
I live in another disaster -- the entire freakin' east coast. I know what's it like to have land turned into parking lots, useless big houses and urbanization in a "country setting"... it just plain sucks and destroys any sense of community that pre-existed. all for "jobs" which is myth anyway mostly i think. there are NOT jobs out here which is why i get in the car and go someplace every day for work. i am packing my bags right now, you don't have to shout!
Roger - It'd be interesting to have you attend a county commission meeting or a planning commission meeting up this way sometime. Just to get your outside perspective of what is going on, how mismanaged things are just for what seems to be the namesake of having zoning.
While I'm not 100% opposed to zoning in and of itself, the one thing I have learned in life is that no matter what good-intentioned law or measure we take to protect what we have, there are those who will abuse and rape those measures. Take zoning for example. The princple of it is simple. Have basic laws that are aimed at protecting that someone doesn't build a driveway 2 inches away from the property line of someone else. Making sure strip clubs don't form across the road from churches or playgrounds.
But instead what we get is people in power who look at it as a way to drive ideologies, a way to drive personal gain, or a way to drive political BS. I think that was mentioned above in that zoning seems to fluxiate around the items happening at the time. I'd hate to see land in our area here that is zoned now as agricultural be then rezoned against the wishes of current farmers to commercial because 259 or 55 was widened or because businesses pushed their weight or dollars under the table to basically rape the land owners of their land rights.
It really does go back to the princple of whom those that are in power trying to re-invent the wheel to make it do what they want. Rather they should view their position as one they should be honored to be in and that they are a ... "keeper of the law", not an interpreter of the law or a manipulator of the law.
Or maybe I'm just rambling future public office speaches in my head and not realize it. This is what I get for pulling a back muscle and being confined to a chair and sofa. lol
Snowsmith- I didn't say zoning was bad, I just said I'm not reflexively supportive of it. Go check my post again. I'd say I am much more in favor of zoning in urbanized areas than areas with low growth and/or vast amounts of open space. The fact that 95% of West Virginia has no zoning just seems to make sense- it's expensive and very technical; you wind up with a lot bureaucracy most of these small towns can't afford and don't really work anyway.
That said- Kevin, what exactly was your point? Yes, I've been to Houston, and like you I have a hard time seeing it as much worse than Crofton, Maryland, which is an overpriced pit. So if you get the same result- except that places without zoning have strip joints and places that do have zoning you can't afford to live- why exactly do you have zoning in the first place?
That's the question I'm wondering about and want to see more of in school. I want to see how zoning laws stack up against places with no zoning. The fact that it drives people nuts is the reflexive hyperventilation I'm talking about regarding zoning. Most people are so trained to accept it they can't even ask three simple questions: 1) Does it work? 2) Does it work like people says it should? 3) And how much better should it work than no zoning at all to justify having it? Deciding that Houston is ugly is not an argument. It's a matter of aesthetics, and I honestly don't give a rip what anyone's opinion of ugly or pretty is. I don't even care what *my* opinion is on those matters. For me, jobs, housing, and other issues of public goods are far more important. We can throw some paint on downtown later.
Brad I probably can't make it up to a commission meeting, but if you want to talk at all drop me an e-mail with some specific concerns. I can probably point you to some resources or get some answers for you regarding those concerns.
Roger - What I may do is sit in on the meetings, get a transcript for you just to let you breifly go over what is being said, done etc. Like you said the vast majority of WV has no zoning and it makes no sense to have it... except well in Martinsburg or down in those areas of Jefferson Co, Berkeley Co., etc where growth is exploding and that piece of WV is taking the brunt of the westward migration of DCites. As for Hardy Co, I just fail to see how our 12,000 population level witha proposed growth rate of 250 people per year justifies zoning ordinaces. Nothing drastic has changed from 20 years ago till now.
The only problem with having no rules on the books is that when something big happens and it is to late to do anyting about it.
I have to side with the colonel on this one. Usually what happens is there is no zoning until there is a need for it and by then it's too late. Zoning is usually a knee-jerk reaction to something which may be considered unpopular or out of place like a turkey farm in a sub division or a lumber yard in a retirement community. Zoning is a process which puts basic planning in place. The only control a locality has for planning purposes is through zoning, and if the zoning permits something to be allowed, there is the site plan requirement. If not, there is the rezoning option. My experiences with all this comes from my having served on a local elected body in a fast growing county in Virginia where we had more lawsuits thrown at us than Michael Jackson has witnesses
. My advise for planning purposes, regardless of where it is, would be for zoning to be a consideration. It doesn't have to be overly limiting or very strict zoning, but something is better than nothing for some element of control.
.....to something which may be considered unpopular or out of place like a turkey farm in a sub division
Reminds me of my sister's first house in gaithersburg. There was a lot on the way in the middle of a NICE subdivision, as i remember the story, the people who owned the lot submitted planz for a house with a stable for horses. Either the zoning or subdivision restrictions wouldn't allow the stable, but didn't restrict him from raising hogs, so he did on his empty lot in between two very nice homes. My kids used to laugh till they cried when we passed the pig farm on the way to Aunt Shelley & Uncle Bob's house. Only in Montgomery County, eh! .
Want to see what happens more locally without zoning?
Take a drive through Beckley WV -- anywhere along US19/ Eisenhower Drive. What a mess -- Beckley's zoning commission allowed business to dictate for years where growth would occur. So what do we have now? A traffic mess that rivals my new home, New York City.
A drive on US19 from Glade Springs (where 6000 homes are being built) just to the Beaver red light at any rush hour time can take 15-20 minutes. Going into Beckley on Eisenhower is a suicide mission from 9am - 6pm -- it is guaranteed to be car to car congestion. It is a real shame that Raleigh County/ Beckley has allowed this to happen.
Zoning has to be done carefully- or you wind up with an experience like that one in Mont Co (where horse farms aren't allowed but pig farms are overlooked). One important thing to keep in mind is zoning predates planning by about 10 years- zoning was mandated long before planning was. One reason there's so much bad zoning is that people zone and think it's a plan- it isn't. It is a tool of implementing plans and nothing more (or less). Used poorly, it can lead to exclusionary and fiscally restrictive policies that can be struck down in federal courts, or it can have no impact on development at all. When it's used wisely, it's usually used in conjunction with other tools in order to implement a vision for what a region wants to be- or to coordinate activity between jurisdictions. It's not a panacea, and it's only as good as the people that run the planning department.
The reason we have "sprawl" today is because until about 20 years ago, zoning was set to segregate land uses because that was what everyone agreed was the right thing to do. The old "cookie cutter" lots exist largely for health and safety reasons that are probably past their prime. This is good to keep in mind because we are developing different ideas of what good zoning should look like, but our new ideas may be no more "right" than the ones used to create the mess we now abhor (as a matter of fact our "new" ideas are deeply conservative- attempts to replicate traditional patterns of growth. One landscape architect I spoke with says that there hasn't been a new idea in urban development in 30 years). Probably 95% of the zoning laws that exist- and most likely the ones that Hardy County is planning on implementing- are going to lead to the same outcome, if they influence growth and development at all.
Also, keep in mind that zoning has a mixed history. Although it was used to segregate land uses, it was also used to segregate people. It has been effective at doing both for 100 years. New steps in planning are trying to continue the former and discontinue the latter.
The most important thing is to develop a plan as to what you want your county/city/region to be and then investigate how to get to where you want to go. A lot of stuff is beyond the control of any government, but not everything. In most regions, it's not the lack of zoning that's the problem, it's the lack of planning. And, almost everyone still thinks planning=zoning. That is not the case at all. As a consequence, you have rural areas where planning is virtually ignored because no one wants zoning and urbanizing areas where people zone but don't plan, resulting in disaster areas. Our priorities are screwed up. It's like deciding that in order to build a house all you need is wood. Wood helps, but without hammers, nails, and most importantly a blueprint, you're up a creek.