Out and about in Strasburg

Strasburg's new zoning official Wyatt Pearson walks along this stretch of East King Street recently. Pearson, who attends Virginia Tech, works as the town's part-time planning and zoning administrator. Rich Cooley/Daily

Strasburg’s new zoning official hit the streets this month to get to know the town building rules and the community.

Wyatt Pearson works as the town’s part-time planning and zoning administrator who oversees enforcement of Strasburg’s development rules, codes and other regulations. Pearson attends Virginia Tech and commutes to Strasburg from Blacksburg.

“I really like the fact that it seems like everybody knows each other, which I had heard that about small towns,” Pearson said Friday. “I think that will help when I get out and try to start talking to everybody.”

Economic Development and Planning Manager Kimberly Murray said Friday that Pearson will be spending time in his first few weeks touring the town and meeting people.

Pearson joins the town shortly after Strasburg adopted its Unified Development Ordinance that combines the zoning and subdivision regulations.

“I believe in what it aims to accomplish and it provides a good guideline for development moving forward, ’cause everyone wants development, everyone wants growth, but you want the desirable kind of growth and the desirable type of development,” Pearson said.

The administrator noted the importance of the town working with the community under the regulations.

Pearson, 23, from Chesapeake, received his undergraduate degree in environmental policy and planning from Virginia Tech. Pearson said he plans to complete his master’s degree in urban and regional planning in December. Pearson said he took the job because it involves planning and zoning in town, and on a larger scale through the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission.

“It’s a unique opportunity,” Pearson said. “I didn’t find anything else like it during my job search, which was pretty extensive.”

Pearson went to college first with an interest in working with environmental issues but switched his education to urban planning. His interest in the environment came from spending a lot of time outdoors, serving in the Boy Scouts and eventually achieving Eagle Scout. In college, Pearson said he soon saw the connection between planning and the environment and noted that many environmental problems stem from land-use practices.

Murray took on the duties of zoning administrator this year. She pointed out Friday that Pearson should help her focus on the town’s economic development.

“We’re thrilled,” Murray said.

Pearson’s duties include zoning and planning work, administering and enforcing the Unified Development Ordinance and implementing other town codes. Pearson will work on other department projects and likely will attend Planning Commission meetings.

“Any of the commercial development we get in, we hope for him to be helping us with the development review process and [Architectural Review Board] applications, too, and get to know our community,” Murray said.

Strasburg partnered with the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission earlier this year to create the shared position. Pearson works part time with the town until after Christmas. Then he begins working full time — three days with the town and two for the regional commission.

Strasburg officials hope to make the position full time, but any such step would take effect no sooner than the next fiscal year beginning July 1, pending council’s support and if money is available in the budget, Murray said.

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