By Alex Bridges
WOODSTOCK -- Shenandoah County could boost its economy under a plan to add industrial land near Strasburg.
The Industrial Development Authority at its meeting Friday endorsed a proposal to change the zoning of approximately 92 acres of land at 1095 Oranda Road, Strasburg. The property lies west of a quarry operated by Carmuese Lime & Stone and north of Interstate 81. A CSX railroad track runs through the property.
Director of Community Development Brandon Davis talked to the IDA about the proposal to rezone 91.8 acres of the Glendale Properties from agricultural to industrial use. Information from Davis shows the property also lies near agricultural land. But, as Davis pointed out, the property is far from homes.
The agricultural zoning for the remaining 113 acres of the 206-acre Glendale Properties would not change, Davis said. A small section of property that contains an old house would not be rezoned or developed, Davis said. The property is owned by a trust.
Davis described the property considered for the rezoning as flat and mostly solid rock.
"It is the most perfect piece of industrial property that I could dream of," Davis said. "In fact, that's what I did. I was going through the properties that we have out there in the county and looking for something that could possibly be a good, industrial piece, taking into consideration the neighbors, the existing uses, the topography, the access to utilities, and this is just about the only one that screamed at me."
Davis advised that the trust wants to build in a buffer along the railroad that splits the property.
Davis said he looked into the possibility of the quarry expanding its operations into the property if and when the county rezones the land. IDA members also discussed the matter of blasting by the quarry operators and the subsequent shockwaves. Davis tried to belay their fears by pointing out that a natural gas hub lies near the site. Davis said chances are slim that would happen because the vein of stone does not appear to extend into the property.
The county would lose a prime piece of industrial land if it rezoned the property only to see the quarry buy it and expand, Davis said.
An industrial user or users of the property would need to rely on gravity and tap into a nearby tower to receive water, Davis said.
Davis said that the county would also see a benefit by rezoning the property because the land does not lie in the Northern Shenandoah Industrial Park. Strasburg is set to annex the park by the end of the year, per an agreement reached years ago with the county.
The proposal will go to the Planning Commission likely in September. While the authority can endorse the proposal, the commission and the Board of Supervisors have the ultimate say in whether it's approved.
The IDA also heard from Davis about the pending annexation and joint planning efforts by the town and county. The agreement allows Strasburg to annex property in the industrial park beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The town now plans to annex developed properties in the park and those sites owned currently by the IDA.
Also at the meeting the IDA:
- Approved a deed of easement that gives the Virginia Department of Transportation an area it can use temporarily to store materials and supplies while the agency works on Borden Mowery Drive in the Northern Shenandoah Industrial Park
- Adopted a resolution endorsing the Shenandoah County Economic Development Strategic Plan
- Selected member Vincent Poling, former county administrator, to serve as the authority board's chairman and Jay Winkfield as vice chairman
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org