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Land Subdivision Analysis

The land subdivision analysis is intended to provide a thorough examination of the current density of development, as it relates to the sizes of tax parcels. Coupled with land use data, a review of the degree to which land has been subdivided can help to identify patterns on the landscape the help to differentiate urban vs. suburban vs. rural development patterns. This can also help to identify the location of large tracts of land, or clusters of smaller tracts of land that may be assembled, which might be likely to be developed in the future given the density of land subdivision either surrounding them or otherwise adjacent or in close proximity to an urbanizing influence.

Shepherdstown Land Subdivision

Despite the overall degree of urbanization found within the corporate limits of Shepherdstown, nearly half of the total acreage in town is contained in parcels that exceed 1 acre in size. These larger parcels have an average size of 3.7 acres. This is influenced heavily by the large tracts that make up the portions of the Shepherd University campus that is within the town limits. Parcels under 0.25 acres in size (approximately 10,000 square feet) account for around 23% of the total acreage in town. Interestingly, lots in this category have an average size that is less than half (0.12 acres) of the maximum lot size in the category. This is influenced to a great degree by the sheer number of parcels in this category (over 350 - including 211 which are used for residential purposes) and the very small size of typical lots in the core downtown portion of Shepherdstown.

Shepherdstown Land Subdivision
This map depicts the density at which land has been subdivided within the corporate limits of Shepherdstown.
  •  Under 0.25 Acres
  •  0.25 - 0.5 Acres
  •  0.5 - 1 Acre
  •  Over 1 Acre

There are only around one-third as many lots in the categories of parcels between 0.25-0.5 acre and 0.5-1 acre as there are under 0.25 acres (121 versus 354), and together parcels in these two mid-range classifications account for around 28% of the total area of the town. Parcels in the 0.25 - 0.5 acre category are weighted toward the lower end of the size category, with an average size of 0.33 acres (14,000 square feet), while parcels in the 0.5-1 acre category are closer to the center of the range, with and average size of 0.7 acres, which is still in the bottom half of the range.

Table 10 - Shepherdstown Land Subdivision
Parcel Size Number Acres Percent of Total Average Size
0.25 Acres or Smaller 354 44.7 22.8% 0.12
0.25 to 0.5 Acres 81 26.7 13.6% 0.33
0.5 to 1 Acre 40 27.9 14.2% 0.7
1 Acre or Larger 26 97 49.4% 3.73

The greatest concentrations of densely divided parcels are found along the central block of German Street between King Street and German Street to its intersection with High Street, the east side of Mill Street, and the neighborhood around East German Street, College Street and Ray Street. The largest parcels in town, those containing 1 acre or more of land, are generally located near the exterior margins of the corporate limits, including along all of the eastern boundary of the town, as well as the northwestern and southwestern portions of the town’s western boundary. In general, the western portion of the town is more densely divided than areas east of Princess Street, while the southern portion of the town (south of High Street) is more densely divided than the northern portion of the town and the central core of the town is more densely divided than areas at a greater distance from the core.

Growth Management Boundary Land Subdivision

Parcels that are 1 acre in size or smaller are typically associated with urban to suburban intensity patterns of development. Over 1,800 parcels of this size are found in the combined area covered by the Growth Management Boundary and corporate limits of Shepherdstown, for a total of nearly 670 acres of land that has been subdivided to this level of density. For comparison purposes, around 100 acres of land within Shepherdstown’s corporate limits is contained in parcels that are 1 acre in size or smaller, compared to around 570 acres in the area of the GMB outside of the corporate limits. This means that nearly 6 times as much acreage outside of the town’s corporate limits than within is divided to a degree of density where it would be considered to have urban or suburban characteristics. This is in contrast to the generally assumed exurban or rural character and density of development that is typically associated with unincorporated areas of a county. With an average size of only 0.36 acres, the average size of parcels in this category is very closely aligned with the average parcel size (0.23 acres) found within the town alone.

Growth Management Boundary Land Subdivision
This map depicts the density to which land has been subdivided throughout the town’s adopted Growth Management Boundary (in-cluding the area within the corpo-rate limits).
  •  Under 1 Acre
  •  1 - 10 Acres
  •  Over 10 Acres

The largest amount of the acreage in the combined area of the town and the GMB is contained in parcels over 10 acres in size. Over 66% of the combined area, containing over 7,750 acres (12.1 square miles) falls in this category. The 180 parcels that fall in this category have an average size of around 43 acres, while the largest individual parcel contains almost 525 acres. This parcel, which happens to be occupied by the National Conservation Training Center contains over twice the land area that is contained within the corporate limits of Shepherdstown.

The remainder of the land is divided into parcels with a size of between 1 and 10 acres, which, while generally suburban to rural in nature, can be thought of as being of a size that is transitional between truly rural areas and areas with a character that is more suburban to urban in density. With nearly 3,280 acres (over 5 square miles) of land in this category, parcels within this category represents the remaining 28% of the total land in the combined areas. With and average size of 3.23 acres, the 1,015 parcels in this category are clustered more heavily toward the lower range of the scale, indicating a landscape that tends more toward the suburban rather than rural end of the spectrum.

Table 11 - Growth Management Boundary Land Subdivision
Parcel Size Number Acres Percent of Total Average Size
1 Acre or Smaller 1,813 666 5.7% 0.36
1 to 10 Acres 1,015 3,279 28.0% 3.23
10 Acres or Larger 180 7,756 66.3% 43

Outside of the town limits, the most densely subdivided areas are found along the Route 45 corridor. The higher density development pattern in this area extends along the corridor from the western corporate limits of Shepherdstown for over 1.25 miles. The neighborhood around the golf course located on the east side of Shepherd Grade Road has a similar urban to suburban level of density, but is not of the same geographic scale as the more extensive urbanized area along the Route 45 corridor. These two primary areas of development density contain the vast majority of the more densely developed portions of the GMB. The remainder of the acreage divided to this density is found in small pockets scattered throughout the GMB, principally south of Route 45 and the corporate limits of Shepherdstown.

Parcels subdivided at a density of 1-10 acres are fairly well distributed throughout the GMB. They tend, however to be found in clusters where rural, large lot, subdivisions have been developed. These large lot subdivisions tend to be located at a greater distance from the core urbanized area around Shepherdstown, and have typically been developed off of lower volume roadways, or farm to market roads, rather than the primary routes in the area. Found primarily in the eastern section of the GMB, the greatest concentrations of these large lot subdivisions are located north of Shepherdstown along Shepherd Grade Road and south of Town along Engel Moler Road, Shepherdstown Pike and Route 480. Land subdivided at this density is also concentrated to a degree along the western portion of Route 45, particularly along the portion of the corridor that is closest to the western edge of the GMB.