“Page County’s best asset is its rural character, that should be protected above everything else,” said Page County resident Beth Snider, at the September 2 public workshop regarding the zoning and subdivision ordinance update.
“Yes, we have definitely heard that in all these answers,” replied Melissa Scott with the Berkley Group, consultants brought in to guide the County through the process.
Citizens and government officials attended the workshop on September 2, 2020 at the Stanley Fire Hall. Participants provided feedback on a range of questions regarding zoning and land use concerns, reviewed future land uses, addressed community design elements and identified potential areas for growth and expansion. Earlier in the day, the consultants met with stakeholders identified by County officials, such as members of the real estate and business community, tourism, builders, attorneys, farmers and county staff. Read the notes here.
During the workshop, the Berkley Group’s presentation noted that public input is the cornerstone of good local planning—citizens know the issues and understand their county the best. They discussed how ordinances directly impact a county by specifying what land-uses are and are not allowed, determining minimum and maximum yard/lot sizes and the type of residence (single family, apartments or townhouses) allowed. Ordinances also address supplemental regulations such as off-street parking and loading, flood plain conservation, and allowed uses of accessory buildings and structures. They guide what types of businesses are permitted including short-term tourism rentals, age-restricted communities, restaurants and auto-repair facilities, among many other specific uses.
Some of the primary issues raised during workshop:
- Preservation of open space, forested land and viewsheds.
- Controlling sprawl and protecting agricultural lands by directing new commercial, industrial and residential growth around the towns of Shenandoah, Stanley and Luray.
- Protection of water quality by encouraging new growth to connect to the towns’ municipal water and sewer systems.
- Options for low-to-moderate income housing such as “tiny houses”, those with very small square footage of indoor living space, either as adjacent to existing homes or in their own park.
- Implementation of lighting standards such as the Dark Skies Initiative to preserve the rural character and minimize negative impacts to local ecology.
- Regulations for signage and landscaping of new commercial and industrial development to minimize the visual impact.
- Enforcement to prohibit trash buildup on private property.
- Protecting the scenic value of the main entrances into the county and towns. Consideration of context-sensitive design to soften the impact of development.
- Initiatives to bring in jobs and support existing/solicit new businesses particularly those that align with the natural, cultural and historical assets of the county.
- Re-using existing buildings, structures and land for revitalization efforts.
- Implementing design standards to preserve a “sense of place”.
- Use of buffers between different land uses to reduce the visual impacts and smooth the transition.
As shown in the timeline below, there will be more opportunities to provide input, and we will be sure to keep you posted as the meetings are scheduled.
- Ordinance Drafting – Fall/Winter 2020
- Joint Planning Commission/Board of Supervisors Work Sessions – Bimonthly (open to the public)
- Public Open House with Draft – Spring 2021
- Incorporate Final Revisions – Summer 2021
- Public Hearings for Adoption – Summer/Fall 2021
Go here to view a video of the September 2 workshop. The Berkley Group presentation and notes from the meeting are available here.
Credit: Berkley Group, presentation provided at Page County public workshop, Sept. 2, 2020