Home-rule waiting game

Ranson, Charles Town, 21 other contenders poised for ‘long process’

CHARLES TOWN – Both Ranson and Charles Town have sent in applications to the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program in Charleston, hoping for the OK to implement ordinances, acts, resolutions, rules and regulations and thus gaining more control over their communities.

Now, it’s a waiting game.

Debbie Browning of the West Virginia Development Office said 23 municipalities have applied for Home Rule. Twenty will be included in the program.

“The applicants will have several meetings with the Municipal Home Rule Board, which oversees the program,” she said. “It can be a long process.”

The West Virginia Legislature created the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program and its board in 2007. The program was set up to last five years but was extended an additional five years in 2013.

Ranson and Charles Town submitted separate proposals but their applications “mirror” each other, according to Ranson Mayor David Hamill and Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith. Both mayors said Home Rule would allow them more freedom to make their own rules for their communities, such as dealing more effectively with building code violations.

Hamill said Ranson building inspectors can’t write citations for condemned buildings and must instead go through magistrate court.

“Home Rule will allow us to have local options for local problems,” said Charles Town City Manager David Mills. “We can set our own pace, as long as we don’t violate the U.S. Constitution and the West Virginia Constitution.”

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