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County seeks input for southern area plan

By Alex Bridges

People interested in planning the future for a large area of Frederick County get another chance to give their thoughts this week.

The county is in the process of updating its Southern Frederick Area Plan and has scheduled a public review and input meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Robert E. Aylor Middle School, 901 Aylor Road, Stephens City.

The Southern Frederick Area Plan covers a large section of the county -- south of Opequon Creek, west of U.S. 522 South and east of Interstate 81. The plan's coverage area spans south to the Va. 277 corridor.

County officials will present a draft of the plan and other related documents drafted by a group of volunteers since last fall. Michael Ruddy, deputy director with the Planning and Zoning Department, said Friday that the update reflects changes made to the original to include some communities not included in the first version. The county added a considerable amount of space to the Southern Frederick Area Plan, including Lakeside and Fredericktown, to the north of the original coverage, Ruddy said.

"Those areas really hadn't been part of any area plan," Ruddy said. "They just happened so it was a good chance to see if anything can tie them together more, perhaps, especially given the Comprehensive Plan."

Little has changed in the Va. 277 corridor, Ruddy said. But some of the existing neighborhoods have seen changes since 2008, such as Lake Frederick off U.S. 522. Some of the new residents in Lake Frederick participated in the drafting of the plan.

As with any land-use plan, this document outlines what the public wants to see in the coverage area in the future. Any development that may occur in the plan's area would likely need to go through the usual steps before approval.

"It's a guide to where the commercial should be, where the employee centers could be, and also the residential and the focal points," Ruddy said.

Beyond the basic area plans, the county incorporates maps outlining roads, trails and other transportation amenities. The plan also includes maps detailing the natural and historic resources as well as current or planned community facilities of the area.

"This is a plan that guides the future and when people are thinking about it," Ruddy said. "Nothing happens until the property owners would want to do something. ... Should a property owner or developer in the future want to do something with that property this gives a guide to what the county's looking for."

Development projects in many cases prompt the county to look at any utility, infrastructure or transportation issues that may arise, Ruddy added.

The public will have more opportunities to look at and weigh in on the area plan even after the review and input meeting, Ruddy said.

"Then we can go to the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors over the summer and then they should be comfortable that folks in that area who have an interest have had input," Ruddy said.

In order to adopt the revised area plan, which would ultimately serve as an update to the Comprehensive Plan, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors would need to hold public hearings on the draft.

Visit http://tiny.cc/hhv4hx to see the draft of the plan and related maps.

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

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