WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Planning Commission recommended Thursday night that the Board of Supervisors approve New Market's future growth area map and its addition to the county's comprehensive plan.
At a joint public hearing of the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission, New Market Town Manager Evan Vass said the town "simply didn't have a vision" for its growth before the proposed map was developed. The town is "very specific" with what it would like to see in the growth area, he said, but the plan is not "written in stone."
The proposed growth area is made up of four areas around the town of New Market, which in turn include approximately 206 parcels covering 1,559 acres, according to a staff report on the area. Parcels included in the future growth area are zoned agriculture, residential, business and general industrial, the report says.
The plan calls for a mix of residential, commercial and light industrial uses in the growth area. New Market would more than double in size if all of the proposed growth areas were annexed, the report says.
Mike Artz, a member of ShenandoahCounty's citizen's advisory committee, said he had come to speak for the majority of the group, which has spent a "considerable amount of time" evaluating the proposed growth area. The plan does a good job directing growth into the town, which is in keeping with ShenandoahCounty's comprehensive plan, he said.
"I feel the [committee] supports this plan," Artz said.
New Market Mayor Tom Constable said the map was a "very important document," and he hoped the panels gave it "positive consideration."
"It's really a document we're all proud of," Constable said.
Richard Walker, another citizen's committee member, said most of the growth plan's generalities are "great," but he is concerned that it goes too far in specifying the kind of development that should occur in the growth area. The plan may restrict what people can do with their land, he said.
"We are actually pre-zoning," Walker said. "The general tenets [of the plan] I have no problem with."
During the commission's regular meeting, Planning and Zoning Director Chris Boies said state law now requires that the county develop urban growth areas. The county's six towns and two sanitary districts will likely be designated as such to fulfill the requirement, he said.
The growth plan anticipates that New Market will grow 2 percent annually, and have 4,000 residents by 2040, he said. The plan was "done at a very high, comprehensive-plan level," he said, and many details will need to be worked out as the annexation agreement is developed.
Boies said he would like to see every town in ShenandoahCounty develop such a plan and "get specific about what they would like to see" in their growth areas.
"I don't think it's taking property rights away," he said. "I think it's called good planning, and we need more of it."
Board of Supervisors Chairman David Ferguson asked what would happen if property in the growth area entered a conservation easement. Boies asked whether the county would want to hold a conservation easement on such a property, and said other agencies would investigate a locality's land-use plans for a property before entering such an agreement.
Ferguson asked whether it would become "very difficult" for property owners in the growth area to get a conservation easement. Boies said it wouldn't necessarily be more difficult to get such an easement, but the property owner would need to "make a case to use [the land] that way."
The Planning Commission unanimously adopted a resolution approving New Market's future growth area map and its incorporation into the county's comprehensive plan, and recommending that the Board of Supervisors do the same.
118 Madison Place - Staunton, Virginia 24401 | 540.292.0396