HATS Off to Valley Transportation Plan

Dan Stickley owns several hundred acres of prime agricultural land in Rockingham County. But more traffic in the area means new roads might slice through his property.

"There's nothing wrong with growth. We need to grow. But we need to control that growth," he says.

Stickley is part of the Community Alliance for Preservation. He's concerned that the long-debated and recently approved Harrisonburg Area Transportation Study won't benefit the area.

The plan is better known as HATS and to many it signifies urban sprawl and a monster loop road.

Kim Sandum, President of CAP, says, "A gigantic four lane freeway would drastically change the character of this whole county."

Sandum says farmland would be bought up and housing developments and strip malls would come in. She has fought the HATS plan since it was introduced to the public in 1999. Thought the Board of Supervisors endorsed it then, public disapproval helped reverse the decision in 2000.

Now the county has approved the plan again and this time, it says it had no choice.

Bill O'Brien, Rockingham County Administrator, says, "Both Harrisonburg and Rockingham County had to sign on to a plan."

O'Brien says HATS is still V-DOT's preferred plan for transportation growth in the area. Without an endorsement he says the county could have lost state funding to other localities for much-needed road repairs.

He couldn't say whether or not the surprise vote would give the go ahead to the loop road, but Stickley says it's just a matter of time.

CAP is working on a response to the Board of Supervisor's decision. O'Brien says the approval was not rushed and now was the time to act.

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