Town discusses urban developments, rezoning

STRASBURG – The Strasburg Planning Commission discussed and took action on a few potential and in-the-works development projects at its meeting this week.

The first is a $65,000 urban development area grant from the Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment, which the town received earlier this month.

Wyatt Pearson, the town’s planning and zoning administrator, said the town would be receiving technical assistance from this grant to help it set up urban development areas for its comprehensive plan.

Urban development areas, according to state code, could mean a variety of possibilities from single-family dwellings to townhouses to mixed-use housing.

“When we last updated the community plan in 2012, (former Town Manager) Judson Rex … did most of the work to establish urban development areas, but then decided to leave them out,” Pearson said.

The areas that Rex looked at for development included land across the street from Food Lion and a tract of land referred to as the “Golden Triangle.”

“Designating these areas as urban development areas doesn’t require that they be developed (as residential),” Pearson said. “It just indicates that this is something we as (a) town would desire for these areas.”

At the same time, Pearson said the town “has no intention of trying” to make such residential developments mandatory of that area.

The commission’s recommendation for the grant funding will go before council on Oct. 15.

If approved, Pearson said that a consultant from the Office of Intermodal Planning would “come to town and take a look at our ordinances and our comprehensive plan, see what needed to be changed.”

The consultant would be looking at the town’s ordinances to see if Strasburg “is capable of allowing for the type of development that the grant’s intended to provide,” Pearson said.

Also on Tuesday, Pearson said that he updated commission on a rezoning request from town resident Paul Rush.

Rush is looking to rezone 12 acres that he owns near the intersection of U.S. 55 and Capon Street from agriculture and rural residential to medium density residential.

“Nothing has changed as far as his intent,” Pearson said, noting that the town still has yet to receive an application from Rush.

Rush, along with several other landowners, sought this rezoning back in 2006. Since that application has expired, the town is requiring a  new one from Rush – at the expense of the application fee.

Pearson said he informed the commission this week about the possible impacts of the rezoning and any subsequent development that Rush would have to offset.

“We expect a traffic study will need to be done at the time of redevelopment,” he said. “He’d also need to perform environmental assessments … in order to determine if the karst topography in that area is going to be an issue.”

Pearson added, “There is consideration an indemnification bond for the surrounding buildings may be necessary due to the karst topography, because he would have to do a lot of blasting.”

The town is still waiting for Rush to resubmit his formal request in order to begin the process of public hearings and meetings.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com