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Officials get first look at urban development plans

Warren Co. to designate land for "higher density" growth

By M.K. Luther - mkluther@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Town and county officials were presented with preliminary suggestions and a timeline for the designation of urban development areas Tuesday night.

Members of Front Royal Town Council and the Warren County Board of Supervisors heard from Warren County Planning Director Taryn Logan and Front Royal Planning and Zoning Director Bruce Drummond at a town and county liaison meeting.

The two planning departments have been working together to select certain areas for urban development as required by the state.

Every locality that experienced a 15 percent or greater population growth between and to 2000 must select the urban development areas, Logan said.

The county had a population growth of almost 21 percent during the 1990s, and an estimated 23 percent increase projected between 2000 and 2010.

The urban development areas are meant to set aside land that is suitable for "higher density" development.

The land must be close to major transportation networks and availability of public services like water and sewer.

The designated area also must allow for a minimum of four residential dwellings per acre.

"The whole purpose of designating these urban development areas is to try to limit sprawl and save farmland and provide growth where you have infrastructure as far as the sewers and roads," Drummond said.

The county must select 674 acres for urban development areas, and designate 43.6 acres for commercial use.

Logan said the planning commissions have examined land areas within the county limits, including more than 500 acres owned by Front Royal Limited Partnership.

Within the town limits, the commissions have considered roughly 70 acres of land owned by Millennium Lotus Properties and close to 99 acres owned by HEPTAD LLC. The total of slightly more than 683 acres would satisfy the urban development area acreage requirement.

The planning commissions also propose designating 45 acres of Valley Health property within town limits for future commercial development.

The recommended areas are subject to change, Drummond said, and the commissions are looking for feedback from both Town Council and the Board of Supervisors.
The areas must be designated by July 1, Logan said.

The commissions are proposing a tentative timeline of joint town and county work sessions on the recommended areas after the first of the year, with planning commission public hearings to be held in March or April and final public hearings set for May or June.

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