Panel reviews U.S. Route 11 building rules

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County planners continue to scrutinize rules critics say hinder economic development.

The Planning Commission’s Code Review Committee met Thursday to discuss the Old Valley Pike Overlay District regulations – additional rules developers must follow to build structures or open businesses along U.S. Route 11 through the county.

Commissioners Leon Smith, Amy Voss-Devito and Russ Adams comprise the committee with Zoning Administrator Joyce Fadeley and Planner Garrett Morgan. District 4 Supervisor Cindy Bailey and Director of Community Development Bradley Polk also participate in the meetings.

Bailey, one of several vocal critics of the additional regulations, claims the district rules impose cost-prohibitive measures that drive away prospective businesses and industries. A few small businesses have indicated that the regulations were prohibitive, Fadeley told the committee.

Bailey has pointed out that the Old Valley Pike District rules are in addition to regulations in place for all development. The additional rules also can create more hoops developers and business owners must go through, Bailey has said.

The rural landscape subdistrict rules for industrial development require buffers including street trees along a property’s frontage facing U.S. Route 11. The regulations delineate how many trees a developer or business must plant, what kind, how big and when. A parking lot with 15 spaces or more must include 5 percent landscaping in the form of planting islands every 10 spaces, Fadeley said.

Landscaping in parking lots is too much and cost-prohibitive to businesses, Bailey said. Screens of trees also can block the view of businesses from the highway, Bailey added.

Voss-Devito said businesses are allowed to post signs for visibility. Voss-Devito said she would like to see a list of how much trees can cost. Later, Voss-Devito said the cost for trees and other landscaping is relative to the type of business or development.

Smith argued that without the landscaping requirement the parking lots would resemble those at places like Wal-Mart that “look terrible.”

The rural landscape subdistrict rules limit access to a site to one point on U.S. Route 11 unless the Virginia Department of Transportation determines it needs more. However, a separate entrance-only and exit-only system can be used if deemed safer. The regulations call for downcast lighting only, shielded to prevent light from leaking onto neighboring properties on U.S. Route 11.

The town gateway subdistrict imposes regulations on commercial and institutional development. The rules require buffers along U.S. Route 11 with an opaque screen. The regulations also require developers to install sidewalk along the highway.

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

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