West Jeff votes to annex 250 acres into village

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On Jan. 21, West Jefferson council approved a resolution to accept the pro-posed annexation of 250 acres of property from Jefferson Township into the village.

The land, owned by Elizabeth Timmons, borders I-70 to the north and state Route 29 to the southwest.   

Before the property can be officially annexed, the resolution must be filed with the Madison County commissioners then sent back to West Jefferson council for final approval. The process is expected to take about six months.

The area will need to be rezoned for any future improvements; its current zoning designation is agricultural.

“Right now we’re just starting the process… anything having to do with any zoning or anything, that’s still yet to come,” said council President Darlene Steele.

“We’re hoping it will become part of the (State Route) 29 business and industry.”

Fee reduction for Kellogg, Hardware

Council voted to reduce the downtown revitalization fees for the Restoration Hardware and Kellogg facilities being built in the village’s industrial park.

The revitalization fee, set in the zoning code at $500 per 1,000 square feet of building space, was renegotiated to a flat $25,000 for each of the two Route 29 projects. The total square footage of the Kellogg building is 1,142,400. The total square footage of the Restoration Hardware building is 805,125.

To avoid renegotiations in the future, council plans to create a new fee schedule that would allow West Jefferson to better compete with other areas vying for economic development. It also would simplify the zoning information for prospective developers.

“In the future, we’re going to change the way the zoning book is written. We’re going to re-word it; we’re going to have everything make more sense; we’re going to make the whole process easier,” said Mayor Scott Hockenbery.

He further explained the reason for the downtown revitalization fee.

“The increased development on State Route 29 will likely have an impact on our traditional downtown.  The fee is in place to reduce this effect and help revive our downtown area,” he said. “(The money) could be used for something like benches or trash receptacles, new signage, or improvements to roads or sidewalks.  It can really be used for anything that will improve our downtown.”  

Community Improvement

In light of the recent increase in economic development in West Jefferson, council members announced their support of the formation of a Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), a project the Madison County Chamber of Commerce is spearheading. The CIC will involve not only West Jefferson but also other village, city, county and township entities, as well as organizations from the private sector.

According to West Jefferson’s resolution supporting the CIC, the corporation hopes to “achieve a robust and coordinated effort to attract, develop and retain jobs and businesses that have a direct impact on the economic well being of the village and its residents,” as well as other involved areas.

Funding for the CIC will draw mainly from private sources as well as government resources. The goal is to have the new corporation in place by the end of the year.

West Jefferson Pride

Council recognized two groups for inspiring pride in West Jefferson. They congratulated the West Jefferson High School football team for another perfect regular season record that brought the team winning streak to 22 games.

“Their hard work and commitment is very reflective of West Jefferson High School and the village as a whole,” Hockenbery said.

Following playoffs, the team finished the season with a record of 12-1 and were runners-up in the regional tournament.

Council also commended the Christmas in the Park Committee for organizing and supervising this year’s holiday event.   Volunteers were recognized for their time and efforts in putting on a light display and events in Garrette Park, attracting positive attention to West Jefferson.

“I think it’s something nice that’s been done. It takes a lot of work to do it.  You’ve done a great job… people appreciate what you’ve done,” said Councilman Eugene Sidner.

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