New Market’s Future Development Plan Lauded By County, Growth Groups
RockinghamCounty Parcels Included In Proposal
Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg)
December 3, 2007
By Hannah Northey
NEW MARKET — The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors and a group advocating “smart growth” are giving New Market’s growth plan a thumbs up.
The plan, which New Market adopted this month, could add as much as 1,724 acres of land from adjacent Shenandoah and Rockingham counties to the town over the next 40 years.
Industrial, residential and commercial development would be concentrated around the downtown area and green space would be preserved in the town’s outskirts, according to the plan.
The town’s preparation for growth and prevention of urban-like sprawl makes sense, said Rosemary Wallinger, chairman of the Shenandoah Forum, a group that addresses growth and development in the county.
“[The plan] could serve as a model for the rest of the towns in this county,” Wallinger said. “The next steps are planned, they’ve connected old and new areas, and it’s a walkable community.”
Next month, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal, which Supervisor Vince Poling called “excellent.”
Making A Plan
New Market adopted the plan on Nov. 19 as an amendment to its 2004 comprehensive plan, said Evan Vass, the town’s manager.
The 2004 document, he said, didn’t address growth outside of the town’s current boundaries, leaving the Town Council and Planning Commission with little guidance.
“One day there may have been a residential development proposed and the next day it was industrial,” Vass said. “Without a plan, it was difficult for the council and commission to make a decision.”
In February, the council began discussing the plan and formed a steering committee with 12 community members.
In March, the town hired John Hutchinson, president of the Jennings Gap Partnership out of Staunton, to assist with planning and creating the design.
After public comment on the plan was taken in November and October, the amendment was adopted this month, Vass said.
The Shenandoah Board of Supervisors will consider the amendment next month, Poling said. The county would expect some kind of payment for the annexed land, but Poling said the details aren’t yet clear.
Most of the potential growth area consists of land in ShenandoahCounty. But a small portion lies in RockinghamCounty.
However, Joe Paxton, Rockingham County Administrator, said officials there had not been made aware of the plan. Pablo Cuevas, a RockinghamCounty supervisor, also said he has not heard of the proposal.
Preserving New Market
With the plan, New Market has a way to develop land and accommodate growth of the town’s population. It now stands at 1,831 residents, a number that could double during the next 40 years, Vass said.
About 1,559 acres of land between New Market and Smith Creek in ShenandoahCounty would be used for industrial, commercial and residential growth, according to the plan. The plan also calls for the possibility of using 165 acres of farmland in RockinghamCounty.
In those areas, private landowners must approach the council to have their town added to New Market’s boundaries, Hutchinson said.
The “growth area” east of town, Vass said, would incorporate the design, features and streetscapes of New Market’s historic district.
Rebel field, the town’s baseball field, would serve as a link between the downtown historic district, Hutchinson said.
The plan also designates the 750-foot wide flood plain along Smith Creek as a possible greenway trail or stormwater retention area, and the town’s historic battlefields would remain intact, he said.
The plan does not include areas north of U.S. 211 and west of Interstate 81, where the town’s drinking water wells are located, Hutchinson said.
That’s because New Market doesn’t want to encourage development in their watershed, he said.
“Environmentally, that’s a pretty forward-thinking aspect of the plan,” he said. “Most plans like this draw a big circle around the town and don’t think about the resources within that circle.”
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