|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||November 3, 2006|
|Contact:||Joy Oakes, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-329-6815
Mark Ehrnschwender, Plateau Action Network, 304-574-1993
Groups Withdrawal Appeal Against Development Near New River Gorge
County Officials Pass Resolution That Promises Better Development in the Future
Fayetteville, W.Va. - The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Plateau Action Network (PAN) today announced withdrawal of their appeal, filed in October, against Fayette County's Board of Zoning Appeals decision supporting the first phase of Land Resources Company's (LRC) housing development at New River Gorge.
"On October 30, the Fayette County Commission unanimously approved a resolution that responded to many of our concerns about how the county considers future development along the New River Gorge," said Mark Ehrnschwender, a Plateau Action Network board member. "We look forward to working with the county to implement this resolution."
The county's resolution, relating to its Unified Development Code, indicates the need to work closely with public land managers to ensure that developments moving forward protect our public lands, are compatible with park values, and reinforces the need to protect scenic views that lure thousands of visitors annually to New River Gorge. Furthermore, the resolution identifies the need to follow the state's process for public engagement in planning decisions for development surrounding New River Gorge, among other issues in the appeal.
"We appreciate county leaders' willingness to work with stakeholders for better development in the future, and that's why we're withdrawing the appeal," said Joy Oakes, Senior Regional Director of the National Parks Conservation Association. "Moving forward, we encourage Land Resource Company officials to make reasonable improvements to their development plan in order to protect the scenic beauty of New River Gorge."
In October, NPCA and PAN filed a second appeal against Fayette County's decision to approve the first phase of LRC's "Roaring River" housing development at New River Gorge. Analysis by the National Park Service and West Virginia University indicated that houses built on lots included in the Phase 1 subdivision plat for Roaring River will be in the park's viewshed. Up to 80 of the nearly 500 houses in the first phase of the development will partially obscure the scenic views of New River Gorge.
"It's not too late for LRC officials to be good neighbors, and remove these controversial lots from the park's viewshed," said Oakes. "The ball is in their court."
NPCA and PAN look forward to being part of a constructive public dialogue as the Fayette County Planning Commission takes up the important task of evaluating and strengthening the county's Unified Development Code.
"We encourage Fayette County residents to let the Fayette County Planning Commission members know how strongly the public supports protecting the scenic beauty of the New River Gorge, a national and local treasure and an economic engine for the region," said Ehrnschwender.
Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 300,000 members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation's natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
The Plateau Action Network is a nonprofit West Virginia membership organization whose members are concerned about the impacts on the New River Gorge National River of development near the boundaries of the park.