County’s Double Tollgate Strategy Still Uncertain

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors found themselves in a moment of spontaneous debate today over the role of County government in promoting commercial growth. As the Planning Commission continues its independent review of commercial options in the Double Tollgate area the Supervisors took a small step toward mitigating issues at Waterloo that may be slowing businesses from locating there.

Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood), the Supervisors’s Planning Commission liaison, sparked today’s discussion with his summary report of the Planning Commission’s Double Tollgate study group’s progress.

Staelin reported that the Double Toll Gate committee was considering the impacts of modifying the area’s zoning to resemble that of the Berryville business park. Staelin said that such commercial zoning, combined with improved access for truck traffic, could make the area more appealing to businesses. Staelin also said that the Double Tollgate committee was investigating package treatment sewage solutions as well as the possibility of using the White Post Prison’s sewage facility to extend water and sewer to the area.

Double Tollgate is located at the intersection of US 522 and US 340 in Clarke County, Virginia

But Staelin cautioned that there are a number of variables that could make development in the Double Tollgate area less than certain including the high cost of upgrading the prison’s sewage treatment plant should the County opt to use it. Staelin added that significant amounts of unused commercially-zoned real estate in the nearby Lake Frederick community and in Warren County also offer challenges to growth in Double Tollgate.

The glut of surrounding commercial options in the area is making it difficult for the Double Tollgate committee to gain a clear understanding of whether the area can sustain the reasonable square footage real estate values necessary to attract development Staelin said.

“None of the Double Tollgate committee members are real estate experts so we have considered hiring an expert who could help guide us,” Staelin said. “If we did hire someone, the money for the expert would have to come from either the Planning Commission budget or the County’s professional services fund.”

Staelin’s suggestion of a Double Tollgate study prompted Supervisor Bev McKay (White Post) to question why the County was studying Double Tollgate at all given that commercial incentives already  in place in the Waterloo area, which according to McKay, have not been effectively promoted.

Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh), who has expressed frustration in the past over the Supervisors’s divided position regarding Double Tollate development, restated his support for a more in-depth review of solutions that could help spur commercial growth in the area.

“If we don’t do something nothing will occur there,” Weiss responded to McKay.

McKay countered that he believed that the County should focus on Waterloo first.

“We already have all of the facilities at Waterloo,” McKay reasoned. “I think that we need to proceed there before we hire another expert to look at Double Tollgate.”

“We can do two things at once,” Weiss shot back.

As the debate intensified, Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert, who along with Weiss had previously been out-voted when a study was suggested prior to the last general election, also appeared frustrated at resistance to funding a closer look at Double Tollgate.

“We talked about doing this seven months ago but the Board voted three to two to go slow,” Hobert said. “Now the Planning Commission is coming back to us with the same thing.”

However, Supervisor Staelin responded that the opinion emerging from the Double Toll Gate study group was a slightly different message this time.

“Without a study the general feeling is that it may not be cost effective to do highway commercial development at Double Tollate,” Staelin said. “The issue is whether we want other types of businesses there and how the development might fit with our comprehensive plan.”

Hobert then endorsed the Planning Commission’s progress in reviewing options at Double Tollgate.

“We’re moving in the right direction and we need to continue until we find out that things won’t work there” Hobert said.

Supervisor Weiss also endorsed continuing to look at different options for Double Tollgate. Weiss went so far as to raise the idea investigating transferable development right (TDR) program for the area that could allow the County to increase population density in the area. Under a TDR program, developers often gain higher development density rights by purchasing the development rights from farmland – effectively reducing development in other areas of the TDR jurisdiction.

“We even talked about the idea of having a small village there,” Weiss said.

Supervisor Byrd said that what the County should avoid is more cookie-cutter commercial development similar to what is already offered nearby in Warren and Frederick counties.

“What we need there is something “different’ there because we will never be able to compete with these other things nearby,” Byrd said.

Byrd described a natural food market that she had seen while traveling in Vancouver, Canada and said that she believed that promotion of similar unique commercial growth would be well suited to Double Toll Gate.

However, McKay remained insistent that the County should focus on the Waterloo area first and do more to reduce commercial sewer hookup rates to promote business growth in the area.

“Waterloo is the most possible spot that we have,’ McKay said. “I wouldn’t oppose subsidizing the hookup fees through the Industrial Development Authority if that would make a difference.”

Ending on a note of consensus the Supervisors agreed to ask the Industrial Development Authority to investigate decreasing sewer hookup fees through County-subsidized means.


  1. Stonebroke says:

    “Byrd described a natural food market that she had seen while traveling in Vancouver, Canada and said that she believed that promotion of similar unique commercial growth would be well suited to Double Toll Gate.”

    All I can say is WOW! These are some of the bright ideas that our elected officials come up with when we start talking about potential business growth! Unbelievable!

    • Another View says:

      Would not the Farrmer’s Market qualify as a “natural foods market”? And we already have that. It’s wonderful.

  2. Red Bully says:

    Turn the jail into project housing. Bulldoze dinosaur
    Land. Ban sales at the flee-market. Build a wal-mart
    Or sheetz. Then build a sorry named development
    erected after some board member that has lived in
    The county for 6-9 years. Better yet. Give the land to
    The next county over and let it be there problem.

  3. The timeframe for “doing something” in Waterloo has already passed. Warren County has commercial business with easy access to 66 and developed the north side of Front Royal. Frederick County just put in a new WalMart right up the road. Leave it alone for now. If, in the future, demand warrants the developement and it will make money for the county, then spend money for studies and infrastructure.

  4. Day late dollar short says:

    Development should be done at 7 and 340 not at Double Toll Gate. There already is 2 Wal-Mart’s out in that area along with other retail stores. Building here is not the smart choice…. Too close to Fredrick and Warrant counties where there is already PLENTY of shopping. Over on route 7 there is nothing between Winchester and Leesburg. THIS is where the county will make revenue and it is closer to town water and sewage… OH wait! OMG but we can’t have it too close to picturesque Berryville, even if it is the smartest choice, no matter how much money it will save the tax payers… Developing Double Toll gate is just STUPID…irresponsible and financially unsound. [redacted] … Go ahead, develop Double Toll Gate, waste tax payers money. It’s going to fail!!!

    • If I lived in that area, I don’t think I’d want a WalMart going up in my back yard. That’s one of the things that distingushes Clarke County from the surrounding ones. In Frederick County, the BOS is just as “good ol’ boy” as the one in Clarke, but in a completely different way. In Clarke, the BOS wants little to no growth. In Frederick, it doesn’t surprise people to wake up the next morning and see bulldozers putting a cell phone antenna or a Target in your back yard

      • StoneBroke says:

        The two WalMarts in Frederick County was built in the middle of grown up fields and we have plenty of those in Clarke County to build anything you would like!

        • There’s also a Rite AId on the corner of Rt7 and Valley Mill that butts right up against someone’s back yard. The Food Lion on Senseny Road and the rest of the strip mall plus McDonalds has pretty much surrounded a house right there on Senseny. There’s a house across from the WalMart on 50 that is now surrounded development and an old folks home. You won’t see anything like that going up around Dick Shickles place. Nor will you see a cell phone tower anywhere around DeHavens place either. There are tons of examples in Frederick County where either a business or housing development comes to someone’s back yard without a thought or care about the homeowner by the BOS, only about the kickback.

          Be careful what you wish for.

          • StoneBroke says:

            It is 2012–There used to be a Peach orchard in my backyard and now there is a housing development. Life goes on!

  5. Cool Kat says:

    Another Anti-Growth Dinasaur has spoken!

  6. LongTimer says:

    And once again we just overlook all the possibilities that lie in the quaint and quiet town of Berryville.

  7. Another View says:

    Why is the government involved in commercial development at all? If I own a parcel of land, and I wish to put a Walmart, or a restaurant or a clothing store, or whatever on it, why should I not be able to do so without begging permission? After all, it is MY LAND!

    • AV,
      You only think it’s your land. If goverment has a need for your land. They show up at your door step with an emmient domain document and maybe offer you fair market value. You can fight it if you want. But, it’s real hard to win against city hall.

      • Another View says:

        Thankfully Virginians will have the opportunity to strengthen private property protections on this November’s ballot.

    • Because in order to place a business at a location, that location needs to have an infrastructure in place. Otherwise, you’d have a horrible mess. That’s what the government is in charge of now.

      Something tells me you were born about 250 years too early too!

      • Another View says:

        Businesses are the ones paying for infrastructure, not government. There is no reason for government to dictate what may be built on private land.

    • Fly on the wall says:

      It’s called “zoning.” A fairly novel thing, clearly, but it’s the tool that municipalities have in place to regulate development (or lack thereof). Just because you own it does not mean you get carte blanche freedom to do whatever you wish when some options could potentially have deleterious effects on my property next door.

      Get off your “Don’t Tread on Me” hobby-horse and take a breather.

      • Another View says:

        Zoning is just a euphemism for allowing those who were here first to prevent newcomers from enjoying their land. It is wrong. And unconstitutional. SHAME!

        • J Gibson says:

          To borrow a line from that famous Spaniard, Inigo Montoya: “This word you keep using. ‘Unconstitutional.’ I do not think it means what you think it means.”

          ALL rights are relative…NONE are absolute. It is the government that has, since the first creeds were inscrubed in wet clay or carved on a rock or uttered with some arcane tongue, been empowered to set reasonable limits so that no right is used to abuse or put down or inhibit others criminally or negligently from enjoying their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

          Zoning keeps my neighbor from setting up a small-scale iron smelting facility in our quiet neighborhood. It’s what empowers a board of architectural review to ensure that improvements in a historic district keep with the flavor and style and appropriateness of said district. Etc. Etc. Etc.

          Of course, you are certainly empowered to keep squawking “AWWK! Unconstitutional! Unconstitutional! AWWK!!” like some poor man’s mynah bird, but it doesn’t change the fact that zoning IS constitutional (albeit subject to abuses or stupid uses, as is most everything invented by we the people). Squawk away, Polly.

          • Another View says:

            What you and others here on this site like is that government will work to curtail citizens’ rights to your perceived benefit. You want government to tax certain people more, for your benefit, keep certain businesses at bay, to your benefit, make sure that certain folks are made to toe your party line, to your benefit.

            Without question, if government gored your ox, you would scream bloody murder. Indeed, you have when you perceive that your pet issues are at risk. From your perspective, it is wrong only if it hurts your interests.

            My perspective is quite different. I apply my principles across the board, even if my personal interests might be adversely affected. Consistency is my hallmark; consistency in the pursuit of freedom and liberty for all.

            You and others can dismiss my invocation of the Constitution all you want. It is sad, however, that you dismiss the very protections that were established to keep government from encroaching on your freedoms. It is clear that not only do you not understand the Constitution and the historical roots of liberty and freedom in the New World, but that you do not want to, and you are afraid that others might achieve that understanding. Your fear is based upon your decision to accommodate government, rather than to exert the effort to keep government in its rightful place.

            The differences between those who think as I do and those who think as you do are stark. We are citizens and you are subjects.

          • Fly on the wall says:

            Wow…think right mightily of yourself, don’t ya?

            I, for one, am a citizen, and I am OK with government setting up zoning ordinances and other things to make my community better. If I feel that government has overstepped, the Constitution – which I’ve read through and studied – gives me the right to petition the government for a redress of my grievances (that’s also in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights, btw).

            It can be a tedious, even onerous process, but it’s there and it’s sound and it’s solid. You seem to prefer the loosey-goosey set up under the Articles of Confederation or something almost anarchical/Bolshevikian. Sorry, my friend, your libertarian-to-the-extreme opinions would engender a LOT more chaos and citizen disgust than you proclaim.

            By your own postings, you seem to espouose the following “ideals” wrapped in Constitution parchment and bunting:
            1. Government should hardly exist at all, save for defense and a few piddling things.
            2. Individuals should be allowed to do, say, drink, eat, build, carry on, and otherwise conduct their lives without so much as a “by your leave” to their neighbors, or their larger communities.
            3. Governmental protections (through zoning, food inspections, etc.) are “not in the Constitution” and thus are “immoral” and “illegal” and should warrant “SHAME” from the citizenry.
            4. You get on your rickety crate and crow about “free market” this and “personal liberty” that.

            What you forget is that, when the free market was allowed to run amok, weird things like different gauges of railroad track were lain all over the place, forcing stupid delays in getting goods and such across large distances; food processing plants weren’t inspected to insure that the food we buy was safe and edible; development was set up pell-mell with no thought to decent planning for use of resources; etc. I could go on, but you don’t listen, anyway. You’ve set your mind to your extremely narrow interpretation of the Constitution, and instantly dismiss any other cogent rebuttal is misinformed and beneath you.

            It must be lonely on your small little island.

          • Another View says:

            By your own postings, you seem to espouose the following “ideals” wrapped in Constitution parchment and bunting:
            1. Government should hardly exist at all, save for defense and a few piddling things.

            That is the federal government that the Founders established. If you do not like the government that the Founders established, it is incumbent upon you and like minded folks to change it via the Amendment, process, not by turning a blind eye to every encroachment on liberty you deem to be a good idea.

            2. Individuals should be allowed to do, say, drink, eat, build, carry on, and otherwise conduct their lives without so much as a “by your leave” to their neighbors, or their larger communities.

            Absolutely, so long as they do not infringe on or impair another’s liberties. I can paint my house neon lime green if I wish, and it is none of your concern. If I dump trash on your property, however, I have wronged you, and you are entitled to redress.

            3. Governmental protections (through zoning, food inspections, etc.) are “not in the Constitution” and thus are “immoral” and “illegal” and should warrant “SHAME” from the citizenry.

            If you had read and studied the Constitution as you claim to have done, you would know that the federal government is limited to its enumerated powers. So yes, if it is not in the Constitution, the federal government lacks the power to do it.

            4. You get on your rickety crate and crow about “free market” this and “personal liberty” that.

            I stand on the shoulders of giants, not a rickety crate. And the ideas I espouse are the foundation of the world’s greatest society. And I “crow” about them because I see our country sliding into socialism and tyranny, the very system that has condemned millions to die in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and North Korea, and consigned other millions to less free and prosperous existences in Europe.

            I stand for the individual and in opposition to collectivism. Where stands you?

          • Fly on the wall says:

            “If I dump trash on your property, however, I have wronged you, and you are entitled to redress.”

            Ahh, but per your logic, I cannot complain to the government, because the government cannot enforce anything it doesn’t have legal standing to enforce. Thus, if there’s nothing that forbade the dumping of your trash on my lawn, I have no avenue for redress – save to fight fire with fire and trash your lawn. [redacted]

            Thus, government at each level is empowered to enact those laws, regulations, and ordinances that are “necessary and proper” (another clause in the Constitution you toss aside when it’s an inconvenient truth to your narrow-minded yet zealous posturing) to promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, and all those other worthy goals of our founding document.

            You, glibly it would seem, overlook the fact that our country has grown and evolved from the small entity it was in 1789 (most Americans still living in agrarian areas, isolated cities, etc.) The expanses and growth in technology, in industry, in population (and the subsequent shifts from agrarian to manufacturing to a more service-oriented economy) have brought about the need for governments at each level to adapt and grow and expand its efforts to manage things and make sure everyone has the same access to live out those lofty goals and their 3 inalienable rights.


  8. Uncle Jessie says:

    Another View-
    You and a few other goofballs are making this site unbearable with your constant anti-gov’t/Obama comments. Please go troll another site.

    • Mr Mister says:

      Amen. It’s a shame when you know exactly what they are going to say before they even type it!

    • Another View says:

      You should read the Constitution. Amendment !. It’s commonly called “freedom of speech””.

      What are you afraid of that you cannot tolerate opposing views?

  9. Bill Bell says:

    Our local governments’ have spent so many years legislating what CAN NOT go on your land, there is nothing left that CAN.

    The 20+ years of studying and arguing about commercial development at Double Toll Gate, Waterloo, and Berryville have served their intended purpose of doing almost NOTHING new at any of them.

    And you know what? That is what the majority of voters elect them to do. So relax and enjoy the view.

  10. Why in the world would you want to develop double toll gate.. When most of the population in the county is located from central to north, east and west. Other then White Post the south side of the county is wide open.

    Winchester is closer than double toll gate from Berryville. The area around 340 and route 50 would be my bet on an area to develop.

    We can all rest assured that nothing will be added within an 8 mile radius of the town of Berryville. Well maybe another housing cluster or two.

  11. Red Bully says:

    The wal-mart comment was a joke and should stay that way.
    There are 4 in a radius of 25 miles. This place needs no more business.
    Just keep raising taxes and you guys will get your $$$$

  12. Cool Kat says:

    I beg to differ. I was thinking of a good shoe repair venture the other day. I was also thinking of putting in a milk factory over by reeds pharmacy so people could have a cold glass with their cookies.

  13. Wonderama says:

    It’s been mentioned several times that our Supervisors go door to door. When? I’ve never had one come to my door nor has my neighbor that has lived here for 10 years. As a matter of fact they have no idea what our Supervisor looks like. I searched him out 2 years ago at a function just to met him.
    It gets better his farm land is attached to my neighbors property.