Residents' input sought on future development issues
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Residents helped Frederick County take a first step Thursday toward planning its future.
County planning officials held the first of two public introduction meetings for the Senseny/Eastern Frederick Urban Area Plan, which drew on residents' input. The smaller area plan covers 16,000 acres east of Interstate 81, from the city limits to the border with Clarke County, Red Bud Run and Parkins Mill.
Creation of the urban area plan comes on the heels of the recently approved larger, state-mandated comprehensive plan. Now county officials can address future planning for smaller areas.
The urban area plan has an important role as the first one to come out of the comprehensive document, commission Chairwoman June Wilmot said.
"This is also a first because we're coming to you first," Wilmot said. "We want your inputs. We want what you think."
Organizers gave those in attendance questionnaires that asked what the people wanted to see in the area under study, what they felt it lacked, and other aspects related to planning. Tables featured maps of the planning area, some of which showed current zoning for different parts. Another map showed potential areas for new schools. Those in attendance then were directed to look at the maps, talk to and ask questions of the county officials on hand and then come up with their ideas for the plan.
Officials also asked people to join working groups that will spend the next two months putting together the plan.
The plan covers the entire Red Bud Magisterial District represented by Supervisor Christopher Collins. While development has all but stopped in the area, Collins said he expects building to resume as the economy improves.
"This will hopefully prepare us for the inevitable improvement in the economy," Collins said.
The Planning Commission is looking for as many interested residents as it can to help develop the plan, he added.
"I think it's a great way to do it," said Gary Van Meter, looking at maps with his daughter-in-law, Amy Van Meter, both of whom live on Airport Road. "People come along and complain about things after but, hey, here's your chance to get in on it in the beginning."
Amy Van Meter expressed interest in planning the area for parks and schools for her children.
"For me, it's what they're gonna do in our area with the roads and stuff as well as what my kids will have," she said.
At the same time the groups are working together on the plan, a group of more than 20 students at Millbrook High School will be doing the same.
"I actually personally feel honored to be, as a student, allowed to be involved in changing the structure of the area and it's really neat that adults are looking for input from students and that makes me excited to see what our group comes up with," said senior Grace Eisenhauer. "It would be really neat to see if it's similar to the adult group because then it'll show that we are all on the same page."
The next public introduction meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Greenwood Mill Elementary School on Channing Drive.
Visit www.co.frederick.va.us for more information.