A Clarke County Planning Commission subcommittee has kicked the Double Tollgate economic development tin-can a bit further down the road. After months of meetings conducted at the request of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors and intended to deliver a new economic vision for the under-utilized commercial area in southern Clarke County, the Planning Commission subcommittee’s report was formally forwarded for consideration by the County Supervisors. The set of recommendations delineates the area’s challenges but offers few solutions for spurring economic growth in the area.
One member of the Double Tollgate subcommittee opposed sending the document forward at all.
“The Board of Supervisors gave us the challenge of coming up with a plan outlining what to do with Double Tollgate,” said Planning Commissioner Richard Thuss (Buckmarsh). “I favored providing specific recommendations for the cost of providing water and sewer knowing that that the options will be expensive. Other members of the committee wanted to address Double Tollgate as part of a bigger redesign of the County’s comprehensive plan. I can’t support sending the report forward to the Supervisors because I wanted specific answers for Double Tollgate.”
The Double Tollgate subcommittee recommendations include:
– No cost-effective, publicly-provided sewage treatment option was identified. The committee investigated other options than were presented in the Chester Engineering report of 2011. This issue will be re-visited during the 2012 Comprehensive Plan update.
– Given current economic conditions, the committee did not entertain the option of amending regulations to allow for a wider range of private septic systems. The committee recommends deferring consideration of such short-term amendments until long-term planning for the area is evaluated anew during the 2012 Comprehensive Plan update.
– At present, any commercial development at Double Tollgate will need to rely on owner-financed, individual sewage treatment options under our current regulations.
– There may be long-range availability of cost-effective public sewer which would make commercial development at Double Tollgate more attractive than at present. However this is unpredictable due to current economic conditions.
– There is no current cost-effective source of public water. Individual wells will be required for any commercial development.
– Given the above difficulties regarding commercial development at Double Tollgate, no changes to the Highway Commercial acreage at Double Tollgate are recommended.
– It is not recommended that a consultant be engaged specifically to evaluate Double Tollgate. However, any consultant utilized for the 2012 Comprehensive Plan update will be asked to address Double Tollgate issues, particularly with regard to allowed uses and other Zoning Ordinance changes. During this review, triggers for public investment in sewer/water infrastructure should be developed and clearly defined to address future demand.
– For near-term commercial development, the county should focus on those areas with already existing or readily available sewer and water, given the sewer/water difficulties at Double Tollgate.
– Long-term, the attraction for private commercial development at Double Tollgate is difficult to predict. As noted above, an identified series of triggers should prompt re-evaluation of public investment in Double Tollgate infrastructure in the future. – The county should consider unique commercial enterprises which do not require sewer/water availability, such as an expanded solar farm, in the Double Tollgate area. Joint venture with the Commonwealth and the Department of Corrections could be pursued.
Planning Commissioner Scott Kreider was absent from today’s meeting.