With plans to bring a residential development to New Market still on hold, town officials have hired a consulting firm to study other ways to grow the town's population. John Hutchinson of Staunton's Jennings Gap Partnership will work with town officials over the next few months to determine the direction they want to take and where and how much the town can expand, according to New Market Town Manager Evan Vass.
In January, town officials locked horns with the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors in an attempt to create a friendly boundary-line adjustment that would have allowed the Buhl property, on Smith Creek Road, to become a part of the town.
The owners of the 100-acre property, Richard Hardison and Carlin Smith, hope to build a 300-home community for people 55 and older.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-3 on the adjustment. Motions that end in a tie are defeated.
New Market officials had hoped to incorporate the Buhl Farm into the town as part of the comprehensive plan, passed in 2004. Now, they say, Hutchinson's job is to find other ways to help expand the town. Barry Carpenter of the Woodstock planning company Sympoetica, and Milton Herd of Herd Planning in Leesburg also would help with the recommendations, Hutchinson said.
What They'll Do
Vass said town officials hired Jennings Gap Partnership to help shape the town's direction.
"We want a vision for the next 25 years," he said. "We want to both preserve what we have and grow, and the group we hired is going to help us accomplish this."
Vass emphasized that growth won't happen overnight.
"We just want to be pro-active rather than reactive," he said. "We're not in a hurry to grow."
Preservation Vs. Growth
Vass said preservation is as important for New Market as smart growth.
"We want to meld the two together," he said. "There's value to preserving the historic feel. But we also have to be realistic."
Vass said New Market's location, just 17 miles from the economic center of Harrisonburg, brings the pressure of growth whether residents want it or not.
Hutchinson said New Market's situation is unlike any other in the area.
"It's got a pretty substantial amount of protected open space on the battlefield," he said. "There are some real unique opportunities to preserve what is already there."
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