JEFFERSON COUNTY, WV (WDVM) – West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is continuing to defend a new tourism law that will help complete Harper Ferry’s Hill Top Hotel project despite receiving notice of an impending lawsuit.
Senate bill 657 authorizes the designation of tourism development districts in certain circumstances, and was overwhelmingly passed by state lawmakers including Governor Jim Justice. Harper’s Ferry Mayor Wayne Bishop and other unnamed town residents have given state officials notice of intent to file a lawsuit challenging the new Tourism Law. They believe it defaces Harpers Ferry’s historical value, while Morrisey believes it’ll explode the economic impact in the Eastern Panhandle.
“I’ve personally looked at these issues as a resident of Jefferson County and as the state’s legal officer,” said Morrisey. “It’s sad that so many people have to resort to litigation all the time when we have a chance to do something special for the residents of Jefferson County.”
The legislation will take effect on May 25th, and it would authorize up to five special tourism zones across West Virginia, involving projects worth at least $25 million in towns with 2,000 residents or fewer. Qualifying projects would be exempt from building, zoning and other local regulations and would instead be overseen by the state development office.