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Strasburg seeks input on new zoning guide

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg residents and business owners get a chance Monday to learn about new zoning and development rules under consideration

Town officials plan to hold a public meeting on the draft of the Unified Development Ordinance at 7 p.m. in the municipal building, 174 E. King St.

Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray said Thursday that town officials and the consulting firm will hold the meeting as part of the public rollout of the large document.

"This is still evolving," Murray said. "What I mean by that is we don't have every single comment in here yet. We're still making more changes. I'm still making more recommended changes."

The Planning Commission and Ordinance Committee plan to discuss the draft and any comments made at the Monday session at a joint meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Town Council will hear a presentation on the draft at its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, at which time planning officials will ask that council schedule the matter for a public hearing March 3. Town officials also are working on changes to the corresponding zoning map. A separate public hearing on the map may be held the same night as the ordinance.

Town Council would not vote to adopt the regulations until March 11 at the earliest.

As Murray explained, the ordinance is an attempt to streamline the process through which developers obtain permits needed for projects. The ordinance sets up a clearer timeline for the approval process, giving developers an idea of what they needed to provide to the town staff and when. The ordinance also calls for the town and developer to discuss the proposal before the application process begins. The ordinance also formalizes the technical review committee's involvement in the process, Murray said.

The new ordinance also would include regulations designed to prevent situations like the failed housing project on U.S. 11 once called Cedar Valley. Murray said the ordinance contains language that requires a developer clean up a site if a project falls through.

"They'll be required to have performance bonds and things like that so if a developer leaves town, we've got money in place to make it right, and I think that will reassure the community, too," Murray said.

Murray held a meeting with Hometown Strasburg on Thursday and said she heard general support for a few changes made to the sign regulations that came out of focus-group sessions. Sidewalk signs for daily advertising and three choices for downtown businesses received support, Murray said Friday. People supported the enforcement of the regulations and asking proprietors to remove banners and illegal, temporary signs left up for long periods of time.

Some people at the meeting expressed a need to allow off-premise signs as a way to draw attention to businesses not located on main streets, Murray recalled. She said many people were in favor of a grandfather clause on the rule that limits signs and lettering on windows. Many businesses are out of compliance with current and proposed ordinances.

Strasburg adopted its current zoning ordinance in 1996. Town leaders made minor revisions over the years. The subdivision ordinance has had some minor revisions since its adoption in 1980.

Visit www.strasburgva.com/Facility-Info/Departments/Planning-Economic-Development/Current-Projects.aspx to download a copy of the draft of the ordinance. Copies of the draft also are available at Town Hall and in the library.

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

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