CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A plan to timber portions of Camp Virgil Tate to raise funds for improvements cleared a hurdle Wednesday evening as members of the Kanawha County Planning Commission gave their unanimous approval.
Commission members also stipulated any timbering that takes place must follow state forestry guidelines.
The recommendation doesn't mean that timbering can occur immediately. The proposal now moves on to Kanawha County commissioners for approval. Even if they give consent, the Kanawha County 4-H Foundation must still sign off on the plan.
Money raised would go to building a new pool at Camp Virgil Tate, which is expected to cost nearly $750,000. The current pool has been closed since 2008 because of structural issues, and the camp has lost revenue as a result.
At a public hearing at the camp on Monday, neighbors expressed concerns ranging from damage to Camp Virgil Tate Road to runoff and destruction of the forest. Because of those concerns, Jack Lavender, president of the planning commission, invited Randy Dye, director of the state Division of Forestry, to speak to the planning commission and the public about the process of timbering.
Dye said that the Division of Forestry could assist any landowner before timbering takes place by helping landowners in ensure that timbering is done properly, though hiring a forester isn't always required. The division also oversees the enforcement of state laws related to timbering.
"It's very important that you engage the service of a professional, registered forester," Dye said.
Some planning commission members expressed support for the timbering after they had their private land timbered, saying that if done properly, damage is minimal or non-existent.
"I did it with a heartbreak, but it did turn out very well," commission member S.K. Miller said.
In other business, members approved applications from Verizon Wireless for six new cellphone towers along the W.Va. Turnpike between the northern toll barrier near Cabin Creek and the Kanawha County line.
Sabre Industries will design the towers, which will collapse on themselves, not going more than 25 feet away from the tower's footprint — alleviating some of the commission members' concerns about their proximity to the interstate.
The commission also asked Site Quest, which is managing the project, to install downward-facing lighting on the towers to aid emergency workers in identifying tower locations in case a helicopter needed to be flown to an accident on the turnpike.
All six will have Verizon's 4G technology and also have spaces for two other carriers to co-locate at Verizon's towers in the future. The towers will be on land owned by the West Virginia Parkways Authority, and revenue from the leasing of the land for the towers will ultimately be routed into the state's highway fund.
Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Mur...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.