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Town Council to discuss annexing industrial park

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg's plans to add industrial land to the town took another step forward months ahead of likely annexation.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday recommended Town Council approve the new, joint land-use plan that outlines strategies for development 117 acres in the Northern Shenandoah Industrial Park.

Town Council and staff have been working with the county and the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission to plan for the eventual annexation of part of the park. Tyler Klein, of the regional commission, gave planners an overview of the joint land-use document.

Strasburg's Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray said Wednesday that, if approved by Town Council, the joint land-use plan and maps would become part of the larger Community Plan.

Earlier this year, as the moratorium on Strasburg's ability to annex the area came to an end, Town Council and staff agreed to pursue only a portion of the developable land in the park.

But Murray said that, after three months on the job, she thinks the town could benefit from annexing the entire park.

"I've come to understand the current proposal, the other land-uses that the county owns that are zoned commercial, some of the other observations that I've heard from folks of what they'd like to see out there and just my experience working with industrial and business parks that have similar characteristics and their needs," Murray said. "We'd like to discuss that with the council about how they could actually complement each other and may be of benefit."

Council holds a work session Monday and plans to discuss the annexation, Murray said. Staff plans to present a proposal to annex the entire industrial park. Murray said she expects the discussions would center on possible future land-use of the parcels and how that fits in with land currently in the county and zoned for commercial development as well as the connection with the over goals of the community.

Council faces a deadline of the end of the year to act on the annexation.

Murray said she expects council to take up the draft at a work session Nov. 4. Council likely will hold a public hearing on the plan and annexation at its Nov. 12 meeting. Members could take action on the matters Dec. 10.

The industrial park covers 278.63 acres in an area adjacent to northern Strasburg. The town proposes to annex 117 acres of the park, or 11 of the 18 parcels eligible for annexation, Murray said.

The jurisdictions adopted an annexation agreement in 1984 that calls for Strasburg to provide utilities, government and public safety services to all annexed areas, as well as maintain its town status and implement land-use rules that complement those in place in the county. An agreement reached in 1998 between the town and county put a moratorium on annexation by Strasburg of land in the industrial park. The town agreed to provide water and sewer to the industrial park but would not seek to annex the property for 15 years.

The park abuts Interstate 81 and lies less than a mile from Interstate 66, offers easy access to Va. 55 (John Marshall Highway) and railroad access via Charleston Southern. Strasburg provides water and sewer service to the industrial site that also has electric and fiber-optic utilities.

As the draft notes, the plan does not change the zoning of the parcels. The plan also does not serve as a development proposal for a specific project. The plan is an official policy document to guide future development regulations, infrastructure improvements and evaluations of proposed projects. The plan provides guidance to landowners, residents, professional staff, elected officials and developers.

The plan includes an inventory of existing property owners and size of the parcels in the 278.63 acres of the park.

The Virginia Department of Transportation conducted a study to look at traffic and safety of the existing and future road network surrounding the industrial park. VDOT's final report on Borden-Mowery Drive-Va. 55 recommends several road improvements to accommodate growth in the industrial park through 2020. Improvements include a traffic signal and southbound, left-turn lane Va. 55 and Borden-Mowery Drive; a northbound, left-turn lane and signal at Va. 55 and the Aikens-Claytor development entrance; a signal and northbound, right-turn lane at Va. 55 and the northbound ramps to I-81; a signal at the intersection of Va. 55 and I-81 North.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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