Comprehensive Planning

    Last modified on October 26, 2023 at 10:56 am

    Comprehensive Planning

    In order to enforce zoning and land-use laws, rules, and regulations, West Virginia law requires municipalities to adopt and, every ten years, update comprehensive plans. Read on to learn more about comprehensive planning in Elkins.

    For information about the 2021 zoning update, click here.


    In essence, a comprehensive plan is a policy document that describes a community’s goals for the next decade.

    Although a comprehensive plan is not a law, it plays an important role in shaping laws–especially zoning laws–and guiding budget decisions. More information on comprehensive planning is available on the website of the West Virginia University Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic (LUSD).

    From early 2013 until late 2014, the Elkins Planning Commission worked on a new comprehensive plan for the City of Elkins. This task, which was guided by consulting services provided by LUSD legal and planning staff, included a great deal of research, public input, and discussion and deliberation among the commissioners.

    The commission presented its recommended plan to the Elkins Common Council on December 18, 2014. After a public hearing on January 15, council adopted the plan with no further amendments.


    The city’s zoning code regulates how land may be used inside Elkins. This code divides Elkins into sections, or zones, and stipulates the kinds of businesses, housing arrangements, and buildings that are and are not allowed in each.

    The Elkins zoning code was updated via ordinance on August 18, 2022. (Read about the update process here.) Prior to this update, this code had not been significantly changed since the 1970s. Because of the comprehensive nature of the 2022 update, it is not possible to summarize all changes on this page.

    Some of the most significant new provisions are:
    • Rules about type, size, and placement of signs
    • Restrictions against conversion of commercial storefronts into residences
    • Requirements for “buffers” between commercial areas and residences, such as landscaping or fence
    • Regulations that affect where and how short-term rentals may be operated
    • The opportunity to operate no- and low-impact businesses in neighborhoods previously limited to residences

    The 2022 zoning code does not impose historic-preservation requirements.

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