Public hearing set for Feb. 11 on alley closing

PARKERSBURG – A public hearing on a petition to close part of an alley off Murdoch Avenue will be held 9 a.m. Feb. 11 by the Wood County Commission.

The petition for Mountain River Physical Therapy is to close part of the alley between the company’s existing business on 37th Street and property the firm purchased on 36th Street.

According to county mapping records, the alley is 15-feet wide and about 1,000-feet long. The alley starts in the area of Murdoch Avenue near the corner of the strip stores where Buttermore Jewelers is located and runs to Poplar Street (the old Olive Street). According to county maps it ends in an area just past 39th Street running into an alley beside Olive Garden Restaurant. A portion of the alley is unused, part of the alley is used by traffic, according to mapping officials.

The property is in a unincorporated pocket outside Parkersburg, so jurisdiction falls to the county commission.

Local realtor John Tebay filed the petition with commissioners on Thursday on behalf of the company. The firm, operating as Webbs Property, a limited liability corporation, is owner of three lots along 37th Street which is the business’ existing location. The firm also purchased seven additional lots along 36th Street. The properties abut each other in the back.

“The company bought these additional lots behind their current location for expansion. They are working with Pickering Associates on the design. They would like to close only that portion of the alley. Thirty employees will be working there, they want to build another building and put in another parking lot,” Tebay told commissioners.

Mountain River Physician Therapy has eight locations in West Virginia and facilities in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, according to its website.

Notices must be posted regarding the public hearing and adjoining property owners have to be notified.

“We want to encourage business development in the county,” Commissioner Blair Couch said.

County officials said research would need to be done on code pertaining to closing only a portion of the street, especially a portion in the middle of the alley.

“There might be a potential problem with closing just the middle portion,” Commissioner Wayne Dunn said. “I know there has been a lot of growth in this type of business and this seems like a wonderful plan, with two access points, but we’ll need to check on that.”

Tebay said the petitioners will also be seeking a variance to the county’s freeboard regulation, part of the floodplain regulations. The request would go to Ed Hupp, county floodplain compliance officer, a recommendation would then be made to the county commission for consideration.

Wood County imposed the additional requirement for the two feet over base flood elevation for buildings in 2007. Builders and property owners can appeal the freeboard regulation, and commissioners can grant a variance on that requirement. The base flood level is set by the federal government.

“We granted a similar variance to another business property owner in that general area earlier,” Couch said.

The commissioners set 9 a.m. Feb. 4 for a hearing on the freeboard variance request.