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Strasburg OKs new regulations

Bob Baker Strasburg Town council

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John "Red" Hall Strasburg councilman

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Massive document combines zoning, building rules

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg leaders approved a vast, new set of rules Tuesday to govern local building and development.

Town Council voted 6-2 to adopt the Unified Development Ordinance - a large document that combines Strasburg's existing zoning and subdivision regulations as well as other land-use rules. Town officials worked for nearly a year on the ordinance, collecting input from the public and holding numerous meetings before refining the document for its approval.

Councilmen Robert Baker and John Hall Jr. voted against adopting the ordinance. Baker said he could not support the ordinance because of a provision that exempts the town from the regulations. Baker called the provision unfair and unnecessary. Hall said he wouldn't support the ordinance because, to him, it contained more regulations and gave more power to the town.

Councilman Rich Orndorff Jr. and Councilwoman Jocelyn Vena noted their initial concerns with the ordinance. Orndorff also had opposed the provision that exempts the town and said he felt Strasburg should abide by its own regulations.

State code already grants the exemption, Orndorff added. It should be difficult for the town to receive an exemption, he said. Orndorff pointed out the benefit of having all the regulations in one document and noted that "we do need those restrictions so that we do not end up with some of the poor developments that came to Strasburg during the housing boom."

Orndorff and Vena described the ordinance as a work in progress that current or future councils may tweak later. Vena said she hopes the town can move forward and enforce the regulations in the ordinance.

Vice Mayor Richard Redmon said he has difficulty with some parts of the ordinance but spoke favorably of the document.

"But we must have our change, respect the fact that change is going to happen and be assured that it can only happen in a good way if it's done in this way," Redmon said.

Councilman Donald Le Vine echoed some of his fellow members. Le Vine said he would invite the Planning Commission and other council members to a future Ordinance Committee meeting to discuss ways the town can properly implement the new regulations. Le Vine said he expects it to take about a year or so to iron out any of the issues in the ordinance.

Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray explained that the ordinance implements the goals listed in the town's Community Plan council adopted in 2012. Key provisions of the ordinance include:

  • Establishing a clear application and permit approval process

  • Uses tables and charts to simplify standards in the approval process

  • Defines the town's zoning and overlay districts

  • Refines the existing design standards "to establish the look and feel of Strasburg for commercial and other non-residential uses"

  • Creates compatible building design style, particular along the entrance corridors and downtown

  • Promotes and uses density incentives to encourage sustainable development

  • Identifies standards for unique uses

The town hired the consulting firm Planning Works to help craft the new ordinance and held an extensive public input process to help guide its creation. The Planning Commission and council's Ordinance Committee also worked on the document, and drafts of the ordinance were made available online.

Following council's adoption of the ordinance, staff members would amend the application process in place, Murray said. They also will work with businesses and homeowners on any outstanding compliance issues and to help them better understand how any changes may affect their properties, Murray added.

Council also adopted, by a 8-0 vote, the official zoning map that establishes the different zones as defined in the development ordinance.

View the Unified Development Ordinance and zoning map at http://tiny.cc/0iu3ix

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

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