By Lon Anderson
“Land use planning is just hard—it’s especially hard for the volunteers who serve on the Planning Commission to balance the choices—often very hard choices,” according to Melissa Scott. “But they have done it here in Hardy County. They have done what they should do, and the County, and its future, are in a better place for it.”
And Scott should know. For the last seven years, she has served as Hardy County’s Planner and Flood Plain Manager. Scott left her post last week to take a position in the private sector.
She may be gone, but according to many who worked with her closely, her legacy will live on well into Hardy County’s future.
“The things she was doing for Hardy County put Hardy on the leading edge of planning in the state,” said Planning Commission Vice President Greg Greenwalt.
“She is one of the leading planners in the state,” echoed Jessie Richardson, Jr., the lead land use attorney in the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at WVU. “We use Hardy County as an example of what counties can do with good land use planning in West Virginia—and there are only a handful of counties in the state that do good land use planning.” Her work, he said, “Is a good example of striking the right balance between protecting natural resources and promoting economic development.”
“She has made us a recognized state leader in the planning field,” said County Commissioner David Workman, adding that Scott “has also kept us at the forefront of flood plain management in the state. We are a recognized leader in West Virginia in these areas because of her efforts. She’s a treasure—a real gem!”
J.R. Keplinger, a former County Commissioner and Planning Commissioner, remembers when they were hiring for the position. “We were looking for a real professional for our planning office, and she really fit the bill.” In the end, he said, “she gave us assurance that what we were trying to do with our land not only complied with the law but would protect our people and our property into the future.”
“She really understood the importance of promoting and protecting the future of agriculture in Hardy County,” Keplinger added. “She helped us do that.”
Michele Moure-Reeves, the County’s Convention and Visitors Bureau Director, offered similar praise. “Melissa’s commitment, knowledge and professionalism cannot be overstated. We are losing a person who understood the importance of her job in protecting our agricultural and recreational lands while shaping the future of land use in Hardy County.”
“Her knowledge was just unprecedented,” Greenwalt said. “Her background, combined with