Three appointed to planning commission

CHARLES TOWN – A local farmer, a current Board of Zoning Appeals member and a former county commissioner were chosen last week to replace three outgoing Planning Commission members.

Wade Louthan, Darlene Truman and Gary Phalen were appointed after three rounds of voting at Thursday’s County Commission meeting.

Planning Commission members William Kelly Baty, Morgan Etters and Eric Smith all completed their three-year terms at the end of last month. Only Smith sought reappointment, though he was unsuccessful.

Louthan, who received unanimous endorsement, is the owner of Shady Grove Farm,  near Rippon. “I’m interested and worried about the county I live in,” said Louthan, whose father also served on the Planning Commission. “The whole bottom line … is how you plan for growth.”

Truman, a Shepherdstown resident, was endorsed by all commissioners except Lyn Widmyer. She is a former president of the Board of Zoning Appeals, and a real estate agent.

“The time I was on the Board of Zoning Appeals was a contentious time. There were a lot of growth issues,” Truman said. “You have stagnation if you have no growth, or you have chaos if you have too much. How do you hit it in the middle with some sense and balance?”

After two further rounds of runoff voting, Phalen received three votes. Phalen previously served on the Berkeley County Planning Commission for two years and on the Jefferson County Commission for six years.

Phalen said he believed roads will become an important topic for planning commissioners.

“Where are the roads? Because, as everybody knows, where roads go either development occurs, or it affects the agricultural community,” he said.

Three current members – Daniel Hayes, J.P. Phillips and Paul Taylor – will come to the end of their terms next year, which is when the next round of appointments is expected to occur.

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