The West Virginia Supreme Court will take up Morgantown’s truck ban when it comes to the WVU College of Law on March 1.
On Dec. 16, 2014, Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit affirmed the arguments of Nuzum Trucking Co., Greer Industries and Preston Contractors Inc., which filed suit after the September 2014 passage of two laws barring “heavy trucks” from passing through Morgantown’s downtown business district.
Tabit wasted little time granting a summary judgment against the city’s claim that it could regulate the use of state roads within its boundaries.
As in the 2014 hearing, the city will be represented by attorney and law professor Bob Bastress.
According to Bastress’ court filings, the argument for appeal makes three assertions:
State code expressly authorizes the city to regulate the weight of trucks and truck traffic on state routes within the city.
The circuit court applied an unduly narrow and erroneous standard of the scope of municipal power.
The circuit court erroneously concluded that municipal regulation of truck traffic on state roads within cities would cause undue disruption.
On the other side, legal counsel for the trucking firms attests that the appeal requires no heavy lifting from the high court.
“Often this court must balance powerful competing policy interests in doing so. The matter at bar before the court, however, does not present such a challenge. Under any reasonable interpretation of the West Virginia Constitution and Code, the city of Morgantown cannot regulate West Virginia state Route 7 and impose weight limitations upon this state road.”
The West Virginia Division of Highways concurs and “respectfully requests that this court affirms the summary judgment order entered by the Circuit Court of Kanawha County.”
Jennifer Bundy, public information officer for the West Virginia Supreme Court, said the court typically spends one day each year in Morgantown.
“It’s not a contract or anything like that, but most of them went to WVU. It’s the only law school in the state, so they like to go and hold an argument docket there once a year,” Bundy said.