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Public input sought on Shenandoah Farms study

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Shenandoah Farms residents could see some roads in the subdivision upgraded to state standards, according to Warren County officials.

A long-awaited study recently completed and available for the public looked into the conditions of roads and stormwater systems in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District. The county recently announced the completion of the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District Road and Drainage Study. Warren County took over management of the Shenandoah Farms community July 1, 2010 and contracted Patton, Harris, Rust & Associates to conduct the study that year. The study cost $76,000 and will be used by the county for future maintenance and construction needs.

"It's a road map for the future for the subdivision and will provide a blueprint for moving forward and improving the infrastructure," County Administrator Douglas Stanley said Tuesday.

Now the county plans to collect more input from residents as local officials and the Shenandoah Farms advisory board work to address issues illustrated by the study. An informational meeting on the study is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday in the government center, 220 N. Commerce Ave., suite 601, Front Royal. The public also may review final draft copies of the study at the government center, the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms Board Office, 6401 Howellsville Road, and at the Samuels Public Library, 330 E. Criser Road. The public comment period will remain in effect for 30 days after the meeting.

Once the study is finalized, the county and Shenandoah Farms representatives on the advisory board will try to prioritize the needs of the subdivision, create a list of projects and move forward on making improvements, according to Stanley.

Warren County has eight sanitary districts, but Shenandoah Farms is the only one which the locality possesses and maintains, Stanley explained. Before Warren County took over Shenandoah Farms, officials toured the Shawneeland sanitary district in Frederick County. Prior to the study, Warren County conducted a survey of the property owners in the district and asked questions about the subdivision. Officials looked into concerns by residents and found some had merit but others did not, acccording to Stanley. But county officials decided to hire a firm to conduct a more thorough study of the district.

Shenandoah Farms consists of 2,984 residential lots, of which 1,090 contain single-family homes. Approximately 90 roads -- predominantly surfaced with gravel --- stretch 42.5 miles through the subdivision. Blue Mountain, Freezeland and Howellsville roads serve as access points to Shenandoah Farms.

"Some of the roads in the subdivision could be upgraded to state standards and turned over to the state to maintain," Stanley said. "All of them won't be and that's part of the study was to look at which roads can be, which ones can't be. But as far as systemwide, what are the necessary pipe sizes, where do we need culverts where we currently don't have any?"

With the possibility that parts of the Shenandoah Farms may not rise to the level for state maintenance, Stanley noted the county continues to set aside funds to work on in-house projects. As Stanley explained, the county plans to look at where it spends money on recurring repairs to roads and other parts of the subdivision, such as road surfaces which wash away during heavy storms. But the administrator noted the county could save money on road maintenance by paving some sections rather than constantly replacing gravel.

The builders of the subdivision did not design the district's stormwater or roads using an engineer's plans.

"So part of this is coming up with that design that was never there to start with," Stanley said. "So you're looking at every single pipe or every culvert."

For example, the county will look at the size of the culverts as needed, not just for current water flows but also at the build-out of the subdivision, according to Stanley.

The county sent 1,900 surveys to Shenandoah Farms residents in August 2011, of which 152, or 8 percent of the forms, were returned completed. The majority of the respondents stated they felt the subdivision needed better road surfaces and dust control, improved sight distance, as well as culverts installed, ditches graded and pipes cleaned.

Visit www.warrencountyva.net/about-wcg/40-press-releases/342-citizens-information-meeting-scheduled-for-shenandoah-farms-study.html then click on the link to download a copy of the draft of the study.

1 Comment

I must take issue with the statement that Warren county "acquired" Shenandoah farms. The county only has financial control and managerial control. I can't believe that Mr. Stanley actually said that Warren county "possesses" Shenandoah Farms. Surely he was misquoted.

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