Town, county seek $500K for industrial site

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

MOUNT JACKSON — Officials with Mount Jackson and Shenandoah County are pursuing a $500,000 state grant to upgrade part of a property in town that is considered a possible landing spot for industry.

Both entities hope to use the funds from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to extend the town’s water and sewer lines to a 136-acre parcel of a 712-acre property along Georgetown and Turkey Knob roads.

The grant would also be used to conduct a Traffic Impact Analysis to determine the state of the roads that surround the property, according to Bradley Polk, the county’s community development director.

“The purpose is to be able to move the industrial property forward and make it more marketable,” Polk said Tuesday.

Robert Whitehurst, a Mount Jackson planning commissioner, owns the 712 acres. In March 2015, he asked the town to rezone the land from agricultural to limited industrial, with the goal of attracting a major corporation to town.

Town Council rezoned 136 acres that were already in the town limits in April 2015.

Council annexed the remaining 576 acres from the county into the town in August, on the condition that officials wait to discuss the land’s rezoning until after reviews of the town’s comprehensive plan are completed this year.

The property is half a mile west of the town limits. Water and sewer lines extend to the Mount Jackson Industrial Park, which is a mile southwest of the town limits and half a mile southeast of the proposed site, Town Manager Kevin Fauber said.

“It would be a matter of boring underneath the railroad tracks [near the industrial park] and extending the lines,” Fauber said.

The VEDP is a state agency that helps municipalities attract business to the state.

The town received a $1,000 grant from the VEDP’s Virginia Business Ready Sites Program in November to analyze the site and determine how ready it is for a company to move in according to the partnership’s five-tier system.

The 136-acre parcel is currently at Tier 4, meaning that all necessary infrastructure is in place or can be in place within a year, according to the VEDP.

The remaining 576 acres are labeled Tier 2, meaning the site is intended for industrial or commercial use but has not been adequately developed for it, Fauber said.

The upgrades will “go a long way” toward making the 136 acres Tier 5, meaning all permits and infrastructure are in place, Fauber said.

The VEDP has $1.2 million available for projects across the state, Polk said.

The grant application is due on May 19, with funding being distributed in June. The timetable for the site upgrades depends on how much money the state provides, Polk said.

“If we get money for studies, then we can get started on those,” he said. “If we get money for something more involved, then we would need to have plans designed for the improvements.”

The grant requires the applying entities to match the funds being requested. Mount Jackson and county officials have not determined how to split the provision of the matching funds, Polk said.

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