STRASBURG – With the county undergoing its comprehensive plan update, the Strasburg representatives of its advisory committee are seeking local input.
Former Councilman Scott Terndrup and Sarah Mauck, the two District 6 representatives, presented Monday night at a Town Council work session alongside Shenandoah County District 6 Supervisor Tim Taylor five main questions related to Strasburg under consideration for the plan, which guides planning and zoning decisions.
Under state code, the plan must be updated every 20 years.
Terndrup and Mauck are on a Citizen Advisory Committee for revising the plan that is looking to close an 18-month public feedback period by September with a list of goals to the Board of Supervisors by December. A draft of the plan will be worked on next year, with a presentation of it to the board in 2024 and expected adoption of it in 2025.
“Shenandoah County has six towns, so it makes it very, very challenging at the county level,” Taylor said of representing the interests of all parties involved. He added that he wants to break down barriers between the county and his district.
The questions sought input on what to do for the business park in town, the West Virginia Corridor H highway system, water quality, solar energy use and how to balance the competing interest of town and county residents.
The business park questions centered around what kind of business the town would like to see as the current plan seeks to fill the park with smaller industrial work, Terndrup said. There’s also a question of traffic access for the site as well as infrastructure support for the land.
“For example, if Toyata came and said to [Town Manager] Coggsdale, ‘yeah, we would like to open up a branch or company here, which would offer about 300 jobs paying between $25 and $30 an hour, would you be interested?” Terndrup asked. “How many jobs...could the Town of Strasburg accommodate with its current labor situation?”
Property in the park is owned by the Shenandoah County Industrial Development Authority, Mayor Brandy Boies noted, but the town issues approvals for use permits on it.
The Corridor H study question focus on how much traffic and development Strasburg might want to see as funding from the $1.9 trillion federal infrastructure bill allows for the completion of West Virginia’s highway system within the next five years, connecting Virginia State Route 55 to the rest of the Ohio Valley, Terndrup also explained.
“Is this something we raise and lobby for, or is this something that we absolutely say no and the traffic goes to Winchester,” Mauck said. “It’s now time to get serious about it because it’s coming.”
After last year’s harmful algae blooms on the Shenandoah River, Terndrup questioned what the town’s solution to ensure the quantity and quality of water from the body of water may be. That could come through the form of education, volunteer efforts or regulations, Terndrup said.
In 2002, a state study predicted that by 2025 there would be an issue with the amount of water available to supply growth in the towns and county areas, Mauck said. The results of the survey are still on track, Mauck said.
“We need to consider what is our importance, how do we get more water or less-use-of water,” Mauck said.
A topic that has dominated the county is the potential use of solar energy, or whether there is a transition from fossil fuels to alternative types of energy and if public building can be involved somehow, Terndrup said. Rockingham and Frederick counties have taken action on the topic, he added.
“Is it government leading the way here or are we going to wait and hope that private industry takes care of it?” Terndrup asked. “This is a global issue.”
For competing interests with county residents, Terndrup noted that the preservation of farming landscapes is preferred, but it’s not as lucrative in generating revenue for the county. Commercial and economic development can alleviate the burden on taxpayers, Mauck added.
“The towns are really not represented in county government, because the towns have honestly turned their back on the county,” Terndrup said, as towns will focus on their issues and leave county issues to the county. “The economic vitality of this town needs to be represented in the county plan, and right now its not.”
The anonymous survey can be found at https://shenandoahcountyva.us/future. Out of the about 40,000 residents the county has, the survey had only about 220 responses as of early last month, with over 200 coming from a booth at Mayfest, Taylor said. The plan is to have information booths at other community events, like Strasburg Express games.
The survey was revamped from about eight months ago to be more streamlined, Terndrup said after Councilman John Massoud said he took it around that time and found the questions to be cumbersome.
Mayor Brandy Boies also took the survey, noting its length, but also how critical it is.
“It’s very important,” Boies said.