By Preston Knight - firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- The Town Council is prepared to approve an annexation agreement with the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors as early as next month, Mayor Larry Smith said Wednesday.
Officials from both panels met Tuesday night for a work session on the proposed agreement. Smith said the council could act on it in September, and supervisors then may follow with a vote later in the month. Attorneys for both governing bodies are reviewing the document.
Town and county officials have already approved a 40-year growth plan for New Market, but the goal all along was to also have a friendly annexation agreement. District 1 Supervisor Dick Neese said Wednesday the agreement with New Market would serve as a blueprint for how the county will work with other towns.
"It's a good planning tool for the county," he said.
The annexation area in the plan is 1,724 acres, including 165 acres in Rockingham County, which should help New Market double in population to around 4,000 in 2045. The majority of growth is focused on 982 acres east of town, where a connector road between U.S. 211 and U.S. 11 north is planned and, with commercial opportunities available, a second downtown, within walking distance of the current one, could be created, officials have said.
The growth and annexation plans came out of a disagreement the town and county had regarding Buhl's Farm, which was a development that called for 250 townhouses, duplexes and single-family homes near White Mill and Smith Creek roads.
A friendly boundary-line adjustment was needed, and although the Town Council unanimously approved it, supervisors denied the request 3-3 in 2007.
Part of the issue at the county level was New Market's infrastructure, as some supervisors were concerned about water and sewer availability.
Since that time, New Market has entered into an agreement with Broadway to send wastewater to a regional facility in Timberville, a project that is moving forward.
On Tuesday, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine accepted a check in Richmond for $80.2 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of that, New Market is receiving $4.26 million for construction of a pipeline to Timberville.
Smith was in Richmond on Tuesday.
"We got our money," he said. "As soon as we get [Department of Environmental Quality] permission, we'll break ground."
Smith, who was not an elected official at the time of the Buhl's Farm vote, said he never considered the town's relationship with the county about annexing land as "bad," and now that an agreement is near, communication is where it needs to be.
"We're both on the same page," he said. "This allows us to bring properties in without going through an extended procedure."