Future Watch: Augusta County

By: Shane Symolon Email
By: Shane Symolon Email

Augusta County is growing with more development popping up every year. County leaders say they have a plan to let the county grow, but still keep its rural heritage.

They've literally mapped out future growth with a Comprehensive Plan. Augusta County Supervisor Wendell Coleman watches the construction of a new shopping center on Route 250 in Fishersville. He says this type of center is the future of Augusta County because of its style.

"The first prototype of its kind in Virginia is a new design for a Food Lion," says Coleman.

The shopping center sits right next to a new upper-middle-class housing complex.

"I've been told, in this development back here, right now is the plans for another restaurant, plans for a veterinarian," says Coleman.

The idea could create walkable communities. To make it a reality the county needs to make ordinances requiring businesses to make themselves visually appealing for a neighborhood.

The new shopping center isn't the usual box design. With red brick and trip woodwork, it seems to fit in with the neighborhood. Plus, the neighborhood residents get convenience.

"You know people could walk to a bank, walk to a dentist, and I say to myself, walk to a drug store. What a novel idea," says Coleman.

It's all part of the county's comprehensive plan to target growth in certain areas, so sprawl doesn't cover the county's rural heritage.

"We expect 80 percent of that growth will need to be in our urban centers. That's Fishersville, Verona, Stuarts Draft, and Weyers Cave," says Coleman.

Supervisor Nancy Sorrells says most of the map for the plan is drawn for only ten percent of growth to be in those rural and agricultural conservation areas.

"It's about quality of life. To be able to have beautiful scenery, not be on top of your neighbor, to be able to have, even if your not a full time working family farm, to be able to raise, for the kids to be able to raise some animals for the show," says Sorrells.

It's not just about keeping that country feeling, because this will also save money.

"We're protecting our natural resources. We're keeping our taxes low by using the infrastructure that’s already in place and concentrating on the infrastructure," says Sorrells.

Industry growth is also targeted for the current infrastructure, though not necessarily huge companies, or mega-sites, which faced controversy a year ago.

Returning Supervisor Gerald Garber says his plan is to find industry that's somewhere in the middle.

"We need to get back to the point where we understand that neither one of those extremes are acceptable. No growth is not going to work, and that kind of growth is never going to be accepted by the general population," says Garber.

Sorrells says the most important part for any growth is that it needs to stay in character with the rest of the county.

"That our county seal, which is an agricultural scene. Its been our seal since the 1700s. That our county seal is still indicative of what people think of when they think of Augusta County. I hope it looks like we have now but better," says Sorrells.

Right now, the graphic map is only a plan for the growth. The only way to stick to it is for current and future county supervisors to update and make new ordinances requiring the changes consistent with the plans ideas.

Augusta County has hired consultants to help learn what ordinances need to be added and updated for the plan to work.

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