By Alex Bridges
Strasburg needs to plan the future of its newly acquired industrial park, seen by officials as a boon for the town.
Strasburg's annexation of the North Shenandoah Industrial and Business Park from Shenandoah County took effect at the end of December. The 306 acres spans an area north of town known as the "Golden Triangle," surrounded by Interstate 81, U.S. 11 and Va. 55.
But town officials still have work to do before they can market the park to potential users and begin to reap the benefits.
Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray said Friday that she and other town officials expect to lay out the development of the park in the coming months.
"We're trying to be proactive and think ahead and look at some of the challenges that we might have, like financing the infrastructure might be an impediment to development, so if we can come up with some creative financing mechanisms, that might be an enticement to new development," Murray said. "We want to do our economic homework and find out what are the future clusters and opportunities for the Shenandoah Valley, but [also] our impact with Frederick County and Warren County economic development."
Part of that effort includes taking an inventory of the infrastructure needs in the industrial park, such as roads and sidewalks. The extension of Borden-Mowery Drive from its end at the First Bank building to Radio Station Road has been viewed for years as crucial to future development of the park. Also, plans call for the eventual extension of Colley Block Road north to Borden-Mowery Drive. Colley Block Road would go through property zoned for commercial use and connect at the First Bank property.
The Virginia Department of Transportation awarded a contract in August for the construction of about a half-mile extension of Borden-Mowery Drive, spokeswoman Sandy Myers said Friday. Work should be completed by the end of May, she said. Shenandoah County worked with VDOT on the section under construction. Strasburg would need to work with the state on subsequent construction.
The county covered the cost of the extension under construction by means of the Industrial Development Authority that provided matching funds through VDOT's Economic Development Access Road program. As Director of Community Development Brandon Davis said Friday, the IDA likely would help fund the rest of the road extension.
As Murray explained, much of the park is zoned for light industrial use, such as manufacturing, but areas to the south allow for commercial and residential construction. Murray said tractor-trailer traffic would access the park by way of Va. 55 and Borden-Mowery Drive and wouldn't use Colley Block Road.
The town also would seek to have an economic study done of the park to determine what kind of light industrial and business users would fit with the needs. This determination would fuel the town's marketing plan for the park, Murray said. All the while, the town would seek community input and support.
The town also may pursue the creation of a tax-increment finance district that could serve as a tool to allow Strasburg to collect additional revenue from park users beyond the usual sources.
Strasburg officials still expect to collect more money from the existing park users. Finance Director Dottie Mullins said Friday the town will receive approximately $154,000 in real estate, machinery and tools and personal property taxes in the first year of having the park.
Town leaders must adopt two documents that lay out the eventual development of the industrial-business park.
The Joint Land-Use Plan between the town and the county for the industrial park remains in draft form after representatives of both localities discussed the document last year. The plan sets forth the wishes of both the town and the county for the industrial park development. Council would eventually need to adopt the document as part of the town's 2012 Community Plan. Likewise, the town has not yet amended the Future Land Use Map to incorporate the annexed land.
Town officials want to talk to land owners about the vision for the industrial park. Murray said those discussions will involve the Shenandoah County Industrial Development Authority as well as other private owners.
"The master plan would incorporate the vision and articulate how to create kind of a synergy between the industrial-business park uses and the commercial property that kind of abuts the interstate and the park," Murray said.
Town Council also must craft a Master Development Plan for the industrial park to lay out the uses a
The town also needs to see if the zoning regulations match the vision. Town officials are also working on the Unified Development Ordinance that sets zoning regulations for Strasburg. Murray said she expects to resume work on the Master Development Plan once council has adopted the ordinance document. However, the town may need to amend the ordinance to reflect any changes officials and council recommend for the development of the industrial park.
"We may learn new things and we may need to go in a different direction and we may need to amend the UDO to reflect that," Murray said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org