Officials: Planning avoids issues like Wyndemere

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg city officials say situations like Wyndemere and Packard Court have taught officials to look for problems with developments before they are brought into the city.

Mayor Bob Newell said he believes Wyndemere to be the last problem area for the city in terms of new subdivisions not being brought up to code before being annexed.

“It’s the last one that I am aware of,” he said.

The Wyndemere subdivision had been annexed by Parkersburg in 1999, but the streets were not finished by the developers and were never dedicated to the city. Now some officials are asking for the streets to be repaired and taken over by the city, but others are balking at the idea, pointing to the cost to repair the streets and a gate located at one entrance to the community.

A motion to allocate $34,000 toward the repair of Wyndemere’s roads died for lack of a second last week at the Parkersburg City Council Finance Committee meeting. City officials say they will still bring the matter before the full council for a vote in the near future.

Willow Lane was dedicated in 2009 after lengthy debates, a lawsuit and thousands of dollars in work on the street. Most recently, city council approved a plan to dedicate Packard Court, a subdivision off Packard Street.

Parkersburg Development Director Ann Conageski said officials have learned some hard lessons in the past.

“Areas like Wyndemere gave us some important experience in issues we want to avoid,” she said.

Conageski said the city has seen development on the business side in recent years, but not as much residential development. About five years ago, two of the most recent developments were completed: Avery Court near Avery Street and apartments along Paul Street in south Parkersburg.

Newell pointed to the Paul Street development as one which had been handled correctly.

“The developer worked with us every step of the way and did everything he was supposed to do,” Newell said.

But Paul Street differed from Wyndemere, both in scope and circumstance. With Paul Street, a short but undeveloped existing city road was completed. Because it was work on an existing road, the developer did not need to dedicate the road to the city, but everything was done to city specifications.

Wyndemere, by comparison, stretches for miles and was outside of the city. When the development was annexed in 1999 the roads had not yet been completed and as a result were never dedicated.

Newell said dealing with development outside of the city still involves a lot of trust and communication between the city and the county.

“I believe there is better communication between the city and the county now than there has been in the past,” he said, but added, “We haven’t had the opportunity to take anything in that would have started in the county, not in recent years.”

Newell also pointed to City Planner Rickie Yeager as a major difference between the issues of the past and the challenges of today.

“In the past our planning department never really had a planner in it,” he said. “They didn’t know to look at all of the things we are looking at today. We put a lot of trust in the past in developers to do what they said they would do, and they didn’t.

“Now it is a lot more of the city taking the lead and being more involved along the way.”

“With Rickie, besides having the experience which comes with the job over the years, he also is able to be up to date on new planning techniques,” Conageski said. “This is his area of expertise.”

Yeager was unavailable for comment.

Newell also said city engineers are now more involved in the development of subdivisions, particularly in how their streets are built.

“They have a lot of input on how the streets are going to be laid out,” he said. “They pay attention to detail more than just the appropriate paperwork so the developer can get started.”