Town approves Rockingham site plans
STRASBURG – The Strasburg Planning Commission unanimously approved site plans this week for Harrisonburg-based Rockingham Cooperative to upgrade and rebrand the Strasburg Home and Farm Services Southern States store.
Wyatt Pearson, town planning and zoning administrator, said the plans Rockingham originally submitted to the town will remain intact, with a few minor changes.
“The original vinyl fence that ran along the back part of the site was supposed to be 8 feet, and they decided to drop it to 6 feet,” Pearson said, adding that Rockingham’s consultant made the suggestion for the drop because “it gave a less industrial feel.”
Pearson noted that three residents spoke at Tuesday’s public hearing – Byron Brill, owner of H.L. Borden Lumber – who sought clarification on Rockingham’s plans.
He said Brill inquired about the views and visibility from Washington Street across from the current Southern States store.
“The applicant did not submit elevation because they were not required to,” Pearson said, noting that the planned fence adjustment and additional landscaping work “would vastly improve (residents’) view.”
Norman Wenger, general manager of Rockingham, said that they felt pleased following the outcome of the meeting and that they will be working closely with the landowners moving forward.
“I had a very good conversation with them after the meeting.” Wenger said. “They had a very good relationship with Strasburg Home and Farm for many years, and that will continue.”
Wenger said, “It’s very obvious that this is a win for everybody. It’s going to be a win for the community of Strasburg, it’s definitely a win for Rockingham Cooperative and it’s a win for the employees.”
According to its submitted plans, Rockingham aims to make various upgrades and renovations to the site, including new paving for parking as well as the removal of the grain mill and the construction of a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in its place.
Keith Turner, Rockingham’s feed division manager, stressed that the company still plans to provide feed for local producers through its mills in Timberville and Dayton.
Wenger said, “Even though the feed mill (in Strasburg) will be closed and removed, the feed product line will actually be expanded. So there’s nothing going away as far as what we’re offering the customers.”
In addition to the upgrades, The Strasburg Farm and Home Services store will be rebranded with Rockingham Cooperative and Ace Hardware signage on the building as well as the street-side marquee.
“It’s very important, though, that the Ace Hardware product line is not going in at the expense of the farm supply. It’s just an addition,” Turner said. “The feed and farm supply that’s sold there now will continue to be sold.”
Rockingham’s planned upgrades also call for extensive building renovation, which will expand the interior retail space into what is now storage space.
Turner said that Rockingham is “working with several engineers” to determine the cost of the project. He also indicated that they are looking to close on the purchase of the site as soon as possible.
Pearson said that the town will need a final set of plans from Rockingham’s consultants before the company can move forward with its site upgrades.
“We’re really excited that it got approved, and we think it’s going to be a good change for the site,” Pearson said.
Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org