By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Strasburg's Community Plan stands ready for approval after years of discussion about the town's goals and needs for the next 40 years.
Town Council plans to vote on the document at its meeting Tuesday. No one spoke at the public hearing on the draft of the document last Tuesday. But as Town Manager Judson Rex explained, Strasburg officials and council have discussed the plan, taken comments from the public and incorporated that input into the crafting of the document.
The plan looks at the town's needs and land-use goals to 2052. The plan's area of study goes beyond the current town boundaries and addresses land uses in adjacent parts of Shenandoah County. Strasburg covers 3.6 square miles or 2,274 acres. The plan looks at an area of approximately 9 square miles or 6,000 acres - more than twice the town's current size.
"We looked at a larger area and the town isn't necessarily going to turn into the study area," Rex said.
The plan incorporates 40 years of projected growth, which includes a population increase to 12,000 people, according to Rex. In response to the growth, the plan outlines how much land the town would need for commercial, industrial and residential use. Much of the future residential land lies in areas already approved for that use, such as Cedar Valley, Derby Ridge and Homewood. But Rex noted that while the plan includes agricultural and residential land outside the town, that doesn't mean all of the area would be developed in the 40-year period.
"We want to keep a border of a transition area of rural-residential and agricultural use area around the town and keep our growth compact and close-knit within the town limits," Rex said.
The town also wants to maintain the rural feel of Va. 55 in the area east of the industrial park, according to Rex.
"You have a beautiful view of Signal Knob as you come down that road and so we included some rural-residential to try and preserve that," Rex said.
The draft does include the goal to push for the development of a mixed-use village in Cedar Valley across U.S. 11 from the Food Lion shopping center. The site is currently zoned as separate areas of residential and commercial. Officials and council decided to expand mixed-use commercial on the first floor with residential on subsequent stories - as a category for future land development into the area known as the "Golden Triangle." Such use exists along King Street downtown.
The draft plan also aims at keeping the highway commercial development along U.S. 11 between the interstate and Founders Landing, Rex explained. Beyond that area commercial development would change to other uses such as offices and other businesses.
An annexation agreement between Strasburg and Shenandoah County allows the town to expand any of the study area not beyond Interstate 81, Rex explained. A major difference between the current plan and the new, proposed document however expands the study area beyond the highway near the interchange with U.S. 11 and across from an industrial park in the county which the town could also annex in the future.
"It's a 40-year plan and, within a 40-year period, there's gonna be a lot of change in the town and it makes sense to look outside the boundaries of what's been studied before," Rex said.
The town would need to discuss with the county any interest in annexing the land on the other side of the interstate included in the new plan, Rex said. Town officials throughout the process talked with county leaders to make sure Strasburg's plan coincided with the county's plan.
Land outside the town limits in the study area likely would remain zoned for agricultural use, according to Rex. The town does not see much commercial development in the areas outside the study.
Town officials incorporated input from the public into the plan. Rex explained that the town had envisioned possible development in an area north of Strasburg outside the limits. After several Shenandoah County residents expressed concern about that idea the town officials and leaders changed the future land use goal for that area keeping it rural residential, Rex explained.
Once the town council approves the document then officials begin work to implement the goals of the plan.