CHAPMANVILLE — The town of Chapmanville may soon join several other communities in West Virginia that are part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System.
The idea was presented at Monday's regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Chapmanville Town Council. The plan is to provide a trail connector that would allow for limited highway access to Chapmanville, and the town can choose to participate in a standard ordinance, provided by the Hatfield-McCoy system, that would allow limited ATV use on certain roads in the town.
If Chapmanville would choose to be a part of this new development, the town would become the first incorporated stop in the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System from the north, which is currently the City of Logan. Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, promoted the idea as a way to garner more economic development for the town, saying Chapmanville is a "beautiful town" with a "tremendous amount of potential."
"The trail system is about economic development," Lusk said. "It's not that so our folks have a place to ride. You're not going to run into anybody in southern West Virginia that says they're lacking places to ride their ATVs. Our purpose is economic development. It's to attract private investment."
According to Lusk, 46 new private investments consisting mostly of lodging have opened since the trail system's inception, and numerous other municipalities in West Virginia have adopted such limited ATV ordinances. Among them are the City of Logan and the town of Man in Logan County; the towns of Gilbert, Delbarton, Matewan and City of Williamson in Mingo County; the towns of Keystone, Northfork and cities of Welch and War in McDowell County; the towns of Bramwell and Matoaka in Mercer Count;y, and the towns of Pineville and Oceana and City of Mullens in Wyoming County.
In most cases, these ordinances carry certain limitations, often only allowing ATVs to be ridden in business districts and in daylight hours. Police departments in respective towns are expected to enforce the ordinances, while West Virginia Natural Resource Police handle violations by ATV riders on the trails.
Lusk says that in nearly two decades, not one town has rescinded their ordinances.
Chapmanville Town Recorder Terilyn Wilson, sitting in for Mayor Raamie Barker, said the council is planning a meeting in January to discuss the idea with residents.
"What we're trying to do is just disseminate information so the public will be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the trail system, and so that when we do have our information meeting, they'll have a background," Wilson said.
Among biggest concerns of council members were people riding ATVs through town at night and certain individuals — such as those who have had their license revoked due to DUI — using it as their new method of transportation in town.
Council member Gary Neil spoke in direct opposition to the idea during the meeting.
"I've went through Gilbert and I've went through Man and I've seen what it's done to the towns," Neil said. "Me personally … I think it would be a bad mistake, and I think we're taking a good community that's quiet and then you've got the guys who bring the ATVs. You can't get on our back streets without being on (WV) Route 10, so that means they're going to be riding down the main streets."
"They'll probably head up into Crawley and Sawmill, so that means they'll probably be riding down by our schools," Neil added. "A lot of traffic, a lot of noise. I think it's going to be tough on our police department. I think we should have a very well-publicized meeting to see what the town wants to do before this council makes the decision."
Wilson told Neil that "a lot of input" from businesses, citizens, and professions will be sought before a decision is made.
Lusk says officials with the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System likely will be able to approach the Chapmanville Town Council about the connector within the next 60-90 days.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196 or follow him on Twitter @DVidovichLB.