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Feedback on Comprehensive Plan

By Staff | Dec 27, 2013

Residents support annexation and growth, investment in downtown businesses, and preservation of Shepherdstown history, according to responses gathered at the town’s first Comprehensive Plan public input meeting and public survey.

Members of the Comprehensive Plan Committee met last week to review the public’s feedback.

Benchmark CMR, Inc., a local government planning and consulting firm headquartered in the Charlotte, N.C., have been hired by the town to lead the comprehensive plan update.

Benchmark’s Jason Epley, and Vagn Hansen presented a “Drafts Results” at the Wednesday meeting.

“There was a lot of confluence of ideas,” Hansen said.

According to their report, residents listed the downtown businesses and tourism among Shepherdstown’s greatest assets.

Residents rated parking as the number one issue in need of further investment, followed by economic development and improvement to the “pedestrian experience.”

Hansen said greater walk-ability and the inclusion of bike lanes were paramount issues for respondents.

“The desire for bike and pedestrian facilities in around Shepherdstown cannot be overstated!” the report said.

Though the majority of respondents were in favor of growth and annexation, the report concluded that some residents still feel hesitation.

“These residents fear that by expanding the opportunities for development the results will be poorly built homes in generic suburban developments,” it stated.

Those in support of growth specified that any development should be consistent with the towns historic character.

“New developments should follow the prevailing model of a street grid with appropriately scaled lots to avoid the feel of a modern suburban development,” the report said.

When asked to imagine Shepherdstown 20 years now, survey respondents said they wanted to see a “thriving commercial district full of businesses that cater to locals.”

Respondents said they hope it is an “environmentally sustainable community.”

Some said they’d like to see greater diversity in population, especially in terms of age.

Many said they like the town as it is today.

“Overall, responses were very positive about the future of the town,” the report stated.

Commissioner David Rosen has acted as project manger for the Comprehensive Plan update process.

Rosen said the Comprehensive Plan will provide guidance to Shepherdstown’s elected and appointed officials who will utilize the comprehensive plan to make decisions regarding the future of the town.

“Over the next two to three months, the draft plan will be developed by the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee with technical assistance provided by Benchmark. A draft plan will be ready to be presented for public comment in March or April,” he said.

The planning process will be completed by June 2014.

Residents can learn about project news, updates, and events throughout the project process by visiting the Corporation of Shepherdstown web site at www.shepherdstown.us/ and clicking on the ‘Comprehensive Plan Committee’ page.