STRASBURG — When Brian Otis was operating in Prince William County’s planning office, he produced sure to study the responsibilities of other people’s employment in the office.
“I variety of floated and I was constantly assisting other parties out, obtaining things accomplished,” Otis reported. “I’ve touched almost everything the complete way by means of from new planning and rezonings, all the way down to issuing permits for decks. I have been associated in all of it.”
Otis, a Strasburg resident, grew to become the town’s new scheduling and zoning administrator on June 27 following functioning in Prince William County for 17 many years.
He formerly served on the town’s Scheduling Fee, the Architectural Evaluate Board and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Prince William County’s populace is about 73 occasions bigger than Strasburg’s 6,600 people today, but it even now had rural sections, Otis said.
“You have old town Manassas, there is outdated town Gainesville, there’s Nokesville, which is way far more rural than this is. It’s a person road, farm town and horse place,” Otis stated. “You’ve obtained to contend with — here’s this development on this facet, the sprawl’s hoping to make its way this way and these individuals are pushing back, and you’ve obtained to make most people content.”
Otis at present is nonetheless studying Strasburg’s strategies, this sort of as document management and the responsibilities of other departments, but he’s previously begun locating methods to provide the citizens, he mentioned.
That has provided operating to make the Shenandoah County Geographical Facts Devices internet site up to date with zoning facts for properties in town, he stated. He’s also creating a databases for incoming permits and designs and is transitioning to digital approach submittals to cut down paper use.
As soon as his bearings are established, Otis’ ambitions include things like redoing the UDO to streamline processes and clearly determine regulations between unique areas of the city. He also hopes to raise organic landscape buffer demands.
“There’s problems now that there are people today wanting to convert some of these [downtown buildings] again into residences,” Otis claimed. “The town’s like ‘no, no, no, we need to have to preserve Primary Street, at minimum the 1st flooring, industrial.’ Which is the charm of this town…so design the ordinance to match that.”
Land for residential takes advantage of is really considerably taken up in city. But creating what land remains obtainable — this kind of as medium density residential zoned sites — zoned for planned improvement will require council approval for building in its place of allowing it “by-ideal.” Transforming the zoning of homes could have an impact on the values of property, but it would stop what took place with Summit Crossing’s many housing models, Otis reported.
“[Planned development] is the way everything’s going to now…builders arrive in and are like, ‘ok, we’re likely to put city properties here, we’re heading to set single families below, I want some commercial in the entrance,” Otis explained. “That way you management what takes place by it. However, with Summit Crossing, it wasn’t prepared growth…so they could come in and structure how they wanted and you’re stuck producing your constraints.”
For small business improvement, there are available houses in town, Otis mentioned, most notably the mainly vacant small business park. The website is owned by the Shenandoah County Industrial Authority, but the council has rejected a number of candidates in the past yr.
Otis said what firms and makes use of are authorized at the park can be greater described. He explained this would assistance steer the town absent from its reputation of not getting company helpful thanks to its meticulous unique use allow approval approach.
“The pendulum has swung way around here, we need to get it again in direction of the middle,” Otis explained.
Among the other initiatives on Otis’ thoughts are: Obtaining a further grocery store in city getting developers place resources into escrow accounts for any upcoming jobs that might come up, these types of as road expansions or connections increasing the enforcement powers of the Architectural Critique Board and footprint of the historic district obtaining a zoning enforcement officer function by means of violations and plainly speaking expectations for compact firms.
“Of class, you dwell in a city exactly where it is like, ‘Strasburg need to constantly be Strasburg,’” Otis explained. “To me, you have obtained to obtain that joyful medium…what’s your eyesight of the town, how do you want it to experience, what do you want it to be and then how is your future improvement heading to effects that.”
A neighborhood engagement professional position, which is vacant, will aid the two Otis and a short while ago appointed strategic initiatives director Olivia Hilton. The also vacant assistant city manager place will help Otis and Hilton with greater projects.