DAVIS, W.Va. — A group of citizens and business owners in Davis went to the town council meeting on Wednesday to express their support for an alternative Corridor H route. The group says they have a petition for the West Virginia Division of Highways to reconsider the current route that includes the signatures of 22 out of 24 businesses in the town.
The group supports a route that would go about two miles north of Thomas instead of in between the two towns. The citizens cited noise as one of the major reasons for using the alternative route as Davis residents would hear passing vehicles on the ramps as well as construction noises. They also believe that it would work to reduce truck traffic through Thomas. The current DOH plan is to create a truck route to avoid traffic in Thomas, but some citizens in previous meetings expressed concerns that trucks would ignore the truck route if the GPS took them through Thomas.
Another concern for the group was the presence of a physical barrier between Thomas and Davis. In a past meeting, the DOH said they would try to incorporate a pedestrian/bike path into the interchange, but the group is still concerned that the interchange would permanently split the Davis and Thomas communities.
While the DOH said previously that they would use dome lights and only light the interchange, residents still showed concern that the lighting would impact the DarkSky initiative at Blackwater Falls State Park.
“Civil engineers in Charleston, or wherever they are, are not necessarily in tune with every local community’s concerns and needs,” said William Peterson, a resident who showed support for the northern route at the meeting, “They can’t be. We want to express our needs and our concerns to these people in the Department of Highways so that when they make decisions, they’re considering our needs.”
The group brought up that the DOH was sued before over its original preferred alignment, which the group says the settlement agreement required the DOH to come up with alternatives to avoid the Blackwater area and the historic district. Allegedly, the DOH mapped a northern route because of the lawsuit. But, when the DOH restarted the project in 2019, they proposed the original route again instead of the northern one, according to the group.
The Town of Davis originally said they would support whatever Thomas’s decision was on this issue because the route affects them the most. On Wednesday, the council considered making a committee to establish the facts and consider the pros and cons of the routes, after Thomas had elected to do so. The council agreed to form a six-person committee whose first task would be to figure out what the town needs to know from the DOH and come up with questions for them. The committee is set to be formed at the next meeting. Any Davis residents or business owners who are interested in taking part in the committee are encouraged to call Town Hall to apply. The council said they aim to have another meeting with the DOH in late August or early September.
Short-Term Rental Moratorium
The town council also discussed the Short-Term Rental Moratorium, which is slated to expire at the end of June. It appeared that most, if not all, town council members were in favor of putting some restrictions on short-term rentals in residential areas, but they couldn’t agree on the best way to do it while the comprehensive plan is still in development. There was some back-and-forth about how the moratorium would be enforced if it was challenged.
Ultimately, the council voted on whether the moratorium should be extended for another six months, and it ended in a tie vote. So, it was decided that the moratorium will not be extended as of right now and that they might do a special meeting on it later.