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West Virginia board announces 16 new municipalities accepted to home rule program

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — A state board has picked 16 cities to participate in West Virginia's Home Rule Pilot Program.

The West Virginia Municipal Home Rule Board announced Monday which of 22 applicants will be in the program. The board released a list of accepted municipalities at a meeting Monday in Bridgeport. The program gives municipalities a larger say in how they govern by shifting power from the state to the local level.

The accepted municipalities are Bluefield, Buckhannon, Charles Town, Clarksburg, Dunbar, Fairmont, Martinsburg, Milton, Morgantown, Nitro, Parkersburg, Ranson, Shinnston, South Charleston, Vienna and Weirton.

The Legislature created the Municipal Home Rule Pilot program in 2007. Bridgeport, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling constituted the initial five-year pilot group.

Last year, state lawmakers called on the Municipal Home Rule Board to add 16 cities to the program. They also extended the program until July 1, 2019.

The board accepted applications and held regional meetings over the last three months to consider which entities to add. Meetings took place in Charleston, Beckley, Martinsburg, Bridgeport and Wheeling.

The municipalities that were denied were Bath — also called Berkeley Springs — Lewisburg, Moundsville, Princeton, Spencer and Oak Hill.

Board members said they did not consider Dunbar's application because the city submitted its paperwork late. The deadline was June 1.

The cities that submitted applications range in population from Spencer, at about 2,300, to Parkersburg, with a population of more than 31,000.

Municipalities included a variety of requests in their application materials.

Weirton, for example, cited traffic issues, such as increasing flexibility with signs, lights and speed limits on state roads in the city without needing the state Department of Transportation's approval, according to The Weirton Daily Times.

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