RANSON, W.Va. (May 15, 2020) — The City of Ranson is on a fast track to correct mistakes it made in 2017 when the city rezoned portions of the Jefferson Orchard property to industrial use. The rezoning was required in order for Rockwool North America (Roxul) to build an insulation factory on the property. According to a legal advertisement placed by the city in The Martinsburg Journal on May 13, the first reading of the proposed ordinance to amend the official zoning map will be on June 16, 2020 with a public hearing and second reading to occur on June 23.
Ranson is reacting to a ruling issued on May 5 by Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge David Hammer who agreed with the claim in Jefferson County Vision’s (JCV) lawsuit from December of 2018: the City of Ranson failed to provide adequate public notice when it changed its zoning to permit heavy industrial uses at Jefferson Orchard.
While not admitting that Ranson made a mistake, in an email to JCV attorneys, Ranson Mayor, Keith D. “Duke” Pierson was quoted: “If an advertising error was made, it was wholly an error of the City. No citizen or landowner reasonably relying upon the law as administered by the City should suffer from an error by the City. Accordingly, I will place before Council an ordinance to reenact the challenged zoning code as originally requested by the landowner. Information on this process, including instruction for public comment, is available at http://www.cityofransonwv.net/notices.”
In his ruling, Judge Hammer had given Ranson until July 3 to inform the Court of their intent. In a May 8 letter to the City of Ranson, JCV’s attorney called upon Ranson to revoke Rockwool’s building permit and insist that all building cease and desist until the land was properly zoned for industrial use. The issuance of the public notice by Mayor Pierson appears to be a response to both actions and one that will not go unanswered by JCV.
Tim Ross, Vice President of JCV noted, “Mayor Duke seems much more concerned with the sufferings of Rockwool than the injustices suffered by his citizens and the threats to their lives and livelihoods that Rockwool poses. Rockwool continues to build without caring that their land isn’t zoned correctly and the only caring that the Mayor exhibits is to continue to sweep up the mess that he and his Council created.”
Ranson notes that the meetings and hearing will be carried out virtually with instructions for attending and commenting in their advertisement.
“We’ll be there,” said Ross. “We will be there in force and will continue to call for the Mayor and City Council to do the right thing and reject the zoning change.”