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Buckhannon Proposing Residency Requirements for New Officers and Firefighters

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BUCKHANNON -

Buckhannon City Council will meet Tuesday to discuss a residency requirement ordinance for new police officers and firefighters.

Council will hear the first reading of the ordinance. The ordinance said new officers or firefighters will have to live within a reasonable distance of their departments.

Buckhannon Mayor Kenny Davidson said he supports the idea from the city's police and fire chiefs to have future officers and firefighters close by if a major incident would take place.

"We could end up in a situation police or fire full time officers living in Clarksburg or Fairmont. We don't have that situation currently, but it could happen," Davidson said.

Davidson said applicants have applied for positions as far away as Beverly. He said the city would be hard pressed to deny employment to someone who may live that far away. The proposed ordinance would require new officers and firefighters to live within 10 road miles from the city.

If current employees who live outside the 10 road mile radius decide to move within they lose that grandfather clause if they moved out again. Davidson was asked about new hires not finding residency within that 10 road mile radius.

"It would give these individuals who accepted employment six months to move and if there was a particular hardship with their moving, they could apply for a wavier and we would extend that to one year," Davidson said.

Davidson believes there's an expectation from the public that first responders need to be able to respond quickly when needed.

"Employees are really on call 24-7, 365 if we have an emergency situation, we need to have those people here in short order, and I don't think we can tolerate being away from our city."

If it passes, a public hearing and second reading will be held July 18.

It would take effect 30 days after passage.