UGB, SmartCode needed
Josh Stella is a superb public servant who does his homework and thinks things through. He now feels the proposed Urban Growth Boundary gives Shepherdstown no advantages. True, by itself, it does not. But its intent, spelled out in 30 pages entitled “Greater Shepherdstown” in our town master plan, is to create a boundary within which the town could exert strict control of development through annexation. The master plan suggests a boundary, and then suggests “smart growth” zoning be enacted to give Shepherdstown zoning control of annexations beyond its current corporate borders.
I have long been an advocate of the town setting a boundary and attaching it to “SmartCode” legislation to stop the suburban sprawl development the county zoning laws now permit outside our borders, giving rise to inappropriate sprawl development such as Maddox Farm.
Mr. Stella may not be right when he says the county “rubber stamps” annexations to Shepherdstown. The newly elected county commission now appears to favor staying with current county zoning and the freedom that it gives to suburb developers like Dan Ryan.
This leaves Shepherdstown as vulnerable to more of the same suburban sprawl the county has allowed in the past. An Urban Boundary linked with SmartCode control would mean the county could not step in and veto annexation that involves greater town control.
In other words, the Urban Growth Boundary is the first step in preparation for a second step. Namely, control.
I hope Mr. Stella is willing to change his mind back before we lose this opportunity to control growth through annexation in “Greater Shepherdstown.” If we leave control to the county, we will continue to see suburban sprawl in our open land that the county has already permitted to surround Charles Town and Ranson.