Town OKs urban development grant

STRASBURG – The town of Strasburg moved forward on a grant program this week that could make future urban development projects easier.

In September, the town was awarded a $65,000 urban development grant from the Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Development for technical assistance on designating a development area.

By accepting the grant this week, town officials will be working with a state consultant to scope the town’s ordinances and sites that could be designated as urban development areas.

Wyatt Pearson, planning and zoning administrator for the town, said, “The end product of this would be a designation in (the town’s comprehensive) community plan for a piece of land … that would be best served for traditional neighborhood design and compound mixed use.”

Pearson added that this designation would provide developers a guide as far as recommended uses for that particular plot of land. In the past, the town had looked at parcels including the area across from Food Lion as possible areas of development.

“If a developer comes into town to do something like that, we can point them toward the areas we have identified as being ideal for that type of development,” Pearson said.

With the Thursday approval in place, the town will “be working with (the state) to establish a timeline. First we’ll be … doing the scoping process to see what all is necessary for us to do,” Pearson said.

From there, the town will have to agree to a timeline of establishing an urban development area within a year or two – or be forced to refund the $65,000 grant.

Along with approving the grant, council also appointed Planning Commission Chairman Robert Flanagan and Councilman Scott Terndrup to serve on a steering committee to work with the state’s consultant on the scoping.

In an interview on Friday, Terndrup said that the grant is “a state initiative that tries to move development and resources into specific parts of communities that are served by water and sewer. It kind of concentrates development.”

As the council’s representative, Terndrup said he is looking to provide “the policy perspective” as well as “what the impact is financially on the community, how it fits in with our (Unified Development Ordinance).”

Wyatt Pearson, planning and zoning administrator for the town, said that technical assistance and grant process will give the town a chance to align its UDO, comprehensive plan and this yet-to-be-determined development area.

“We already have traditional neighborhood design as designation in the UDO, and we have some elements of it in the community plan,” Pearson said, while noting that there are “some inconsistencies” between both plans.

“This would help to eliminate some of those inconsistencies and would take the burden off of the staff fro the 2017 update of the community plan,” he added.

Moving forward, the town will begin the lengthy process of scoping areas for designation as well as “looking at future growth patterns,” which Pearson said will also include a public commenting process.

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