MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Morgantown City Council has proposed an ordinance to amend the zoning code to establish a classification for smoke shops and touted strategic plan accomplishments.

Kay, Casto, and Chaney attorney representing the city, Ryan Simonton, said city planning officials don’t have regulations that provide clarification under the current code on where smoke shops and tobacco stores can be located.

“It will classify it among the districts in the city, permitting it in certain zones and establishing supplemental conditions where these uses are established,” Simonton said.

The proposed amendment would allow smoke shops and tobacco stores in the B-2 Service Business District and would allow them with conditions in B-5 Shopping Center areas.

“It doesn’t apply to grocery stores, convenience stores, or drug stores that have as their main business to offer multiple types of goods,” Simonton said.

The amendment contains a supplemental regulation requiring 1,500 feet of separation between other smoke shops or tobacco stores and schools and daycare centers, similar to ordinances in other parts of the state.

“That’s essentially the same provision that’s included in both the Charleston and Huntington ordinances, and it is less restrictive than the Fayette County ordinance,” Simonton said.

The council also reviewed what was accomplished as part of the City of Morgantown 2020-23 Strategic Plan.

Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli told council members they’ve made significant progress of increasing attractive amenities, improving city services, and promoting fiscal stability were among the goals of the strategic plan.

Among the accomplishments she mentioned were increased downtown activity through local events and the Hazel Ruby McQuain Park Amphitheater, added amenities at BOPARC facilities, and improved relationships with county entities and state departments to help projects move forward. Some of those are expected to begin construction in the next few months.

“We’ve been able to do a number of streetscapes, some of them in the downtown with another one on Walnut Street, hopefully being put out to bid in a month or two,” said Muzzarelli on an example of projects being completed as part of the plan. “And then we’re working with MUB for an infrastructure project working on the drainage in the Popenoe Run area,” she said.

Muzzarelli also pointed out efforts to improve communications between residents and city officials as a major development achieved as part of the three year strategic plan.

In those efforts, according to city staff, an increase in collaborations for community based projects has been seen, as has the use of county based services, as Morgantown City Hall has endured two years of renovations. The hope is that this continues and can be built upon as discussions on the 2024-27 Morgantown Strategic Plan are scheduled to begin this spring.

“We have put a lot of effort into making sure that we improve those relationships,” said Muzzarelli. “Even just us being here in the County Commission Chambers for the last almost two years, shows how far we’ve been able to go,” she said.