New Market adopts part of town plan in 4–1 vote

NEW MARKET – The council voted 4-1 to adopt updates to the first four chapters of the town’s comprehensive plan Monday after 15 minutes of debate.

Council member Peter Hughes expressed concern that no hard copies of the plan’s updates had been provided to the public at the debut of the updated chapters on Dec. 4, and that approving the chapters tonight would be too hasty of a decision.

Town Planner Alex Berryman said the updates had been publicly posted on the town’s website and that he had held forums to discuss the plan with the public, but Hughes was not mollified.

“If we really want our town members to be aware of and to embrace what’s in our comprehensive plan, then I think there’s still some time that needs to pass,” Hughes said.

Hughes also said some people had told him they couldn’t find the plan on the website, and that the information “wasn’t what I would call broadcast and available for quick, easy understanding.”

Berryman argued that subsequent chapters, such as economy and housing, will likely stir up more public interest and require more public engagement. The four chapters voted on Monday — the town’s vision, history, natural environment, and land use — were unlikely to generate much of a reaction, Berryman said.

“I like the report. That’s not my point,” Hughes said. “My point is, we need to go out of our way, I think, to invite members of our town to be aware of and know what’s in this plan.”

Delaying the vote until the council’s next regular meeting was briefly entertained until council member John Blosser said he doubted public engagement would increase by January’s meeting.

The council voted 4-1 to adopt the four chapters. Council member Scott Wymer was absent, and Hughes cast the single “no” vote.

“I just think it’s a mistake,” he said.

A similar situation occurred in Mount Jackson toward the end of October, when a council member requested to delay adoption of the town’s comprehensive plan update to allow for additional time to read through it. Other council members echoed the sentiment and the plan was ultimately approved two weeks later at a special meeting.

The New Market Town Council also discussed placing town pamphlets in Virginia welcome centers and safety and rest areas.

Events and Marketing Director Amber Smoot also stated that 33 million travelers visit Virginia welcome centers and rest areas each year, and 70 percent of travelers who stop at these locations pick up a brochure.

“We are currently located at zero rest areas. No rest areas. And that actually means, you know our rest area that’s right south of us? We’re not there either. People stop there, they pass here, but we’re not even advertising there,” Smoot said. “We’re missing a lot of potential visitors by not utilizing this avenue.”

Smoot recommended the town buy pamphlet slots in the 13 rest areas of the I-81 and I-77 corridor for $3,210.

“When I found out we’re not even in the rest area right up the road, I was shocked,” said Town Manager Todd Walters. “I think it’s worth a try. There again, it’s pretty expensive, and I realize that, we realize that, but we’re missing a lot of opportunity.”

The window for purchasing pamphlet space is tight, Smoot said, and a speedy decision is essential. Walters and Smoot agreed to develop a proposal for an updated brochure to present to the council at the next regular meeting.

The council also heard reports from public works, police and marketing, all of which had been canceled more often than not in recent meetings.

“After these three presentations, folks, don’t it make you feel good about New Market? Really, we’re on a roll,” Mayor Douglas Bradley said. “I think that we’re on the right track, right path. I think a lot of good things are going to happen to us.”