Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 12, 2012

Room to grow — Annexation plan could help Bluefield

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— The Mercer County Commission has given tentative approval to a proposed annexation plan that could give the city of Bluefield room to grow near Exit 1 at Interstate 77.

The commission accepted a petition last week to bring 33 acres of land along John Nash Boulevard into Bluefield’s city limits. The property in question is already owned by the city of Bluefield, and no homes or residential dwellings would be impacted by the proposed boundary adjustment. About 3.5 acres of the land will be used to construct the new administrative, storage and maintenance offices of the Bluefield Area Transit if the boundary adjustment plan is granted final approval by the commission later this winter.

The commission must now hold three public hearings before granting final approval to the boundary adjustment plan. Public hearings will be held in November, December and January.

Besides all of the existing acreage, Bluefield also owns the site’s existing garage the transit authority will utilize, according to City Economic Development Director Greg Shrewsbury. A $3 million Federal Transportation Administration grant will help the city finance the move of the BAT system.

The three acres the transit authority will use leaves 27 acres open to development, Shrewsbury said. That’s critical room to grow for Bluefield adjacent to the heavily traveled Interstate 77 corridor.

“Approximately three to four acres can now be ready for commercial use, and obviously once we get it annexed, it will become a selling point and the city will be able to lease the property to any business,” Shrewsbury told the commissioners.

Shrewsbury also believes it is critical for the city to direct all-terrain vehicle traffic heading to the new Hatfield-McCoy Trail in Mercer County off of Exit 1 and onto John Nash Boulevard. The additional ATV traffic would make the area an ideal location for hotels, motels, department stores and other related developments for the out-of-town visitors.

The goal is to sell Bluefield as the gateway to southern West Virginia and the ATV trailhead in Bramwell, according to Shrewsbury. One part of this plan is to work with the state Department of Highways to create signs directing ATV traffic to Bluefield and Bramwell.

The plan seems logical. City officials — working hand-in-hand with the Mercer County Development Authority and the three county commissioners — must work aggressively to promote new economic development and growth along the Exit 1 corridor in Bluefield.

At this time, we see no reason why this logical boundary adjustment plan shouldn’t be approved after the three required public hearings are completed. No property owners will be impacted in the area, and the land targeted for annexation does provide Bluefield additional room to grow. And new economic development and growth is one thing that is critically needed right now in the Bluefield area.