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Landowners say town owes them sewer service

By Alex Bridges

A group that owns land in Strasburg says the town must provide sewer service to their property.

Representatives for DWS Partnership made their case before Town Council last week and requested that members and officials work toward extending the utilities to property the group owns on Radio Station Road. The land lies at the corner of the proposed extension of Borden Mowery Drive. The three undeveloped parcels cover approximately 9.5 acres in the industrial park.

The town annexed the land in 1999 from Shenandoah County, Donald Downey told council. The agreement between the county and the town indicates that Strasburg has the responsibility to provide water and sewer services to the property. However, the town still has not extended sewer lines to the property, Downey said.

"After 14 years, we need to flush," Downey said.

DWS continues to meet its responsibilities as property owners, Downey said.

"We've paid our taxes, and I must say at a tax rate which was above the assessed value," Downey said. "We've contributed land to the improvement of Radio Station Road."

DWS has asked council to put extending sewer service to their property as a priority. Downey said the owners need a full complement of town utilities to use the property to its potential.

Town Manager Judson Rex told council that he and Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray have been in touch with DWS. The owners group is aware that the town is working on creating a master plan for the entire industrial park. Mayor Timothy Taylor said the town would continue to discuss the matter with the group.

Jim Guisewhite, a managing broker for Sperry Van Ness, a real estate advisory firm, also spoke on behalf of DWS. Guisewhite noted that the small development group is made up of three families who came together to make an investment in the community.

"DWS Partnership has experienced increase value, depressed value, inflated tax assessment in a down year," Guisewhite said. "But what they have not experienced in those 14 years is sewer service, and it was committed to them in that area in 1999."

Shenandoah County real estate records show DWS bought three parcels in 1995 for $26,000 each. The last assessment by the county shows the three undeveloped properties are worth a total of $624,200.

"What they now hold are the deeds to dirt, which has little or no ability to be marketed to be sold without sewer service," Guisewhite said.

A recent offer for the property fell through in part because extension of sewer service would cost too much, Guisewhite said.

"The completion of Borden Mowery Drive and sewer service should go hand in hand," Guisewhite said. "That's going to create an enhanced, user-friendly business park that will create higher tax revenues for the town of Strasburg."

The town recently annexed the remaining portion of the industrial park. Extension of Borden Mowery Drive to Radio Station Road is seen as necessary to fully develop the park.

The issue with the DWS property is similar to the situation with land on Virginia Street that also does not have immediate access to water and sewer. Strasburg officials are studying the issue of land annexed into the town limits that currently do not have access to the utilities.

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

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