rate 147 pictures of different types of landscapes - suburban
A picture of rolling pastures ringed by maple and oak trees received
the group's highest score. They saved some of their lowest scores for
pictures of the Winfield/Teays Valley exit, with its jumble of gas
Developer John Leslie attended that meeting, but didn't stay for the
of the area, a concept he vigorously opposes.
"There are two schools of thought, and they're not new," Leslie
"One group believes in our freedom to buy, sell and do whatever we need to
do to make a living. The other believes in building only if they approve,
and if it benefits our collective well-being as they see it."
Leslie's family moved to the area from Webster County in 1944. He
remembers when a driver on Teays Valley Road would only see four houses
between Hurricane and the Kanawha River. His high school graduating class
had 28 students. He mourns the loss of the Putnam County of his childhood.
"I tell my kids, I'm sorry they couldn't grow up in the '50s like I
how it was. How wonderful it was."
His nostalgia for the old Putnam County does not diminish his
enthusiasm for development. The county must grow or die, he
Leslie blames too many regulations for driving Putnam residents to
places like Mason and Jackson counties.
"I've spent time looking at Jackson County myself," he
until U.S. 35 opens up. That's when there will be an exodus."
Zoning regulations that limit the size and number of signs are "silly,"
Leslie blamed zoning in general for chasing away several
businesses in Teays Valley. He also criticized plans to force builders to
get their homes inspected and approved by the county before putting them
up for sale.
In Maryland, a developer built two identical houses within a half-mile
of each other, Leslie
One house cost $85,000 more than the other
because that county had imposed "impact fees" on new development, he
That sort of approach will kill growth, he
"Putnam County has enjoyed such nice growth, county officials
are of a mindset that it will go on forever. It won't," Leslie
Loving it to death
County planner Ryan blames congestion and unregulated development, not
zoning, for the county's slowdown in growth. The county did not
implement zoning in Teays Valley until 1995, after traffic on area roads
became snarled and a lot of the land already had been developed.
She says the lack of effective zoning can destroy the beautiful
landscapes and slower lifestyle that drew people to Putnam County in the
"A lot of times we hear, 'But wait a minute, I moved out here to be
had the same idea."
If county leaders want to save some rural landscapes, Ryan said, they
have two choices: Own it or zone it. They can buy it and preserve it as
parkland, or they can limit land use in order to prevent a repeat of the
Winfield/Teays Valley exit.
"We have to achieve that delicate balance between property rights and
protection of property values," Ryan
Putnam County Commissioner Jim Caruthers wants to use zoning to create
business and industrial sites along the new highway. Without it, the area
will turn into "trailer park city," he
"When Teays Valley developed, a lot of flat fields that would have made
fine industrial sites were turned into subdivisions. We lost a lot of our
potential for attracting companies."
When most people in Putnam County were farmers, Caruthers said, they
would live on the hillsides and ridgetops and preserve the flat land for
crops and livestock. Future generations should learn from those farmers
and live on the hills, he said, and make room for their commercial and
industrial livelihood in the valleys.
"We need to be stingy with our available flat land," Caruthers
"I've got a 20-year-old son I don't want moving to Charlotte. Right now,
our youth can't stay here."
Parts one, two and three of "Valley on the Move" are available on the
Web at www. wvgazette.com.
The county's plans for U.S. 35 and the visual preference survey can be
found at www.putnam county.org/planning/tcsp/in dex.html.
To contact staff writer Scott Finn, use e-mail or call 357-4323.