By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW MARKET -- A public hearing has been set on an agreement that will clarify when the town can annex property in Shenandoah County over the next 20 years.
Brandon Davis, director of planning and zoning for the county, said the only change will be the date by which property can be added.
From now on, whenever New Market adds property to the town, it will become effective Jan. 1 of the following year.
Prior to this there were two dates, one in July and the other in January, when the official town boundaries would become effective.
The change, Davis said, brings the town up to state code.
"The agreement as a whole is set up to regulate property being brought in to plan for appropriate and deliberate growth around the town," Davis said.
The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. during a regular Town Council meeting.
The town and county have already taken steps in the process of amending the agreement, according to Davis.
It has already been before the Commission on Local Government in Richmond and a panel of three circuit court judges in January.
"It's their job to confirm it, and we expect their recommendation," he said. "Effectively, the changes are very minimal."
Although the agreement will affect acquirements in the future, there are no immediate plans for annexations, said New Market Town Manager Evan Vass.
"The voluntary settlement agreement covers 20 years," he said. "For me to say when a property is going to be annexed is hard to tell."
He did say that development in New Market has definitely slowed in the last five years.
"We don't have the residential growth pressure that we had in the mid-2000s, as with everywhere else in the commonwealth," he said. "But the agreement will allow us to annex when the Town of New Market should choose to."