By Kaitlin Mayhew -- email@example.com
STRASBURG -- The "Community Plan" intended to guide the town through the next 40 years of growth and development was unveiled to the public last week at the first of two public forums.
The forum began with a presentation by Town Manager Judson Rex outlining the details of the plan, which is a product of a joint effort between the planning commission and town council.
Robert Flanagan, chairman of the Strasburg planning commission, said that one reason the plan was created is because the state requires it once every 10 years for each township.
Every five years, he said, that plan must be evaluated and reviewed.
"It allows the town to assess where we are, what must be done now and what needs to be done in the future," he said.
The majority of the community plan concerns the future growth of four major areas: the U.S. 11-Interstate 81 interchange and corridor; the triangular area between U.S. 11, Va. 55 and Interstate 81; the industrial park area and the downtown historic district.
The triangular area referred to by Rex as "the golden triangle" is planned for dense residential development.
According to Rex, the population of Strasburg as of 2010 was 6,398. He projected that the figure would grow in a period of 40 years to around 12,557.
The land planned for more dense residential development is intended to accommodate that.
Additional pedestrian and bike paths are also in the works for multiple areas around the town. The most important of which, Rex said, and also the most imminent, is a pedestrian walkway connecting Food Lion to the downtown area.
For the most part, the area shows little change to the U.S. 11-Interstate 81 interchange, with the exception of some limited commercial use zoning changes.
Dan Downey, a Harrisonburg resident who grew up in Strasburg and owns a farm off of U.S. 11, spoke out against the change.
He said he had spoken with all of the landowners in that area.
"Basically what we're here to tell you is that we're not interested," he said.
Downey said that rezoning the land would not only cause some infrastructure issues, in that the town would have to provide water and sewer for these businesses across gas lines, but it would also destroy valuable historic land.
The area in question is not currently in the town limits, but is just outside in the county.
Rex said that the limited commercial designation is more of a hypothetical plan. A lot would have to happen before the rezoning, such as annexing the land into the town limits.
However, Downey said he and the other landowners were not interested in that either.
"We don't want to be within the corporate limits," he said.
"We've been fine for 300 years and we're fine now."
The second public forum was held on Wednesday at the Strasburg Mennonite Church.