2019 WV Planning Awards

Planning awards recognized two individuals and a community for their efforts to make West Virginia a better place at the 2019 Mountain State Land Use Academy on May 15 at Canaan Valley Resort State Park.

Christopher Fletcher received the 2019 Joyce McConnell Award for Professional Contributions to Planning. The award was presented by the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at West Virginia University College of Law.

A member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Chris has worked at the City of Morgantown for over 13 years and presently serves as the Director of Development Services. In the past, he has served as Director of Planning for Monongalia County and the City of Morgantown, and as a planner in the private sector. He has also been a planning commissioner and member of city council in Weirton.

A longtime president of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association, Christopher has been a leader in the planning community for many years. He has been instrumental in ensuring continuing education and professional development for West Virginia planners. Chris played a key role in the writing and passage of the rewriting of the planning laws of the State of West Virginia in 2004.

His colleagues refer to Christopher as a bridge builder and praise his ability to bring diverse stakeholders to consensus by helping them find common interests. His mentoring of young planners has helped develop a group of young and talented planners in West Virginia. In sum, Christopher Fletcher has benefited communities across the State of West Virginia with his leadership in the practice of land use planning.

The Joyce McConnell Award for Professional Contributions in Planning honors a land use planner, attorney, architect, engineer, local government staff person, or other professional who advances land use planning in the State of West Virginia through their professional work. The award is named after West Virginia University Provost Joyce McConnell, a property and land use professor dedicated to serving the citizens of West Virginia.

Tom Widder received the 2019 West Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association Citizen Planner Award. The award was presented by the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at West Virginia University College of Law.

Tom is a retired engineer and a long-time resident of Moorefield. He served many years as a planning commissioner and was instrumental in helping develop his community’s comprehensive plan. Tom also helped initiate the zoning ordinance amendment process in Moorefield. He has also been a town council member, member of the zoning board, and the past president of the Hardy County Community Foundation. Tom has volunteered his time with many other community activities as well, including his church.

As evidenced by the years of service to his community, Tom cares deeply about Moorefield and Hardy County. He has spent countless hours working to understand and to further community planning, community development, and land use in Moorefield and Hardy County.

The Citizen Planner Award, sponsored by the West Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association, honors a volunteer citizen planner for their work to advance planning in the State of West Virginia. The awardee could be a member of a planning commission, a member of a board of zoning appeals, or anyone who advances planning without compensation.

The Town of Beverly received the Community Achievements in Planning Award.

This year’s recipient has worked hard to address vacant and dilapidated buildings, increase tourism and recreation opportunities, improve infrastructure and the transportation network, and promote the historic character of the town. The list of accomplishments in the past two years, led by the mayor, is most impressive. Many of the accomplishments are consistent with the goals outlined in the comprehensive plan that was adopted in 2017. The accomplishments include:


  • Updating the 1994 zoning ordinance so that it is consistent with the comprehensive plan

  • Adopted the International Property Maintenance Code. To date has served six notice of violations to address dilapidated properties.

  • The Town was awarded a $5,000 loan from the West Virginia Housing Development Fund’s West Virginia Property Rescue Initiative to assist with code enforcement.

  • Conversion of historic museum to an Airbnb to provide overnight lodging to tourists

  • Beverly ON TRAC and Beverly Heritage Center have fostered Heritage Tourism through advertising in publications such as Blue Ridge Magazine and tri-county tourism magazines

  • Partnered with Elkins Depot and the Randolph County Convention and Visitor Center in the distribution of Beverly Heritage Center rack cards

  • Improved the historic brick sidewalk around the town’s public square

  • Improved lighting installed at entrance to Beverly Elementary School

  • Worked with the Department of Highways to repair rutted driveway entrances along Main Street

  • Communicated with Country Road Transit to increase daily bus lines and runs to Beverly

  • Actively pursuing bids on extending sidewalks to the end of town

  • In the process of preparing an improvement plan for the Sewer System’s manholes, wastewater treatment plant, and infiltration and influx situation

  • Working on purchasing property adjoining the historic Confederate Cemetery Mt. Iser to provide for the development of an interpretive walking trail

  • The Community Achievements in Planning award recognizes a community in the state that has shown that, no matter the obstacles, they progress towards the community’s vision. Progress may be shown through adoption of a comprehensive plan, significant steps in implementing a comprehensive plan, or other citizen-based initiatives related to land use planning.



    posted on 06-03-2019 by Dougherty

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