Friday, March 4, 2011

Planning Commission will get their cake and eat it too

Planning Commission Member Rick Williams Eats Cake

UPDATE Friday 3/4 2:00 p.m.: Planning Commission work session members enjoyed their cake. Pictured left is Rick Williams grabing the first piece. Thanks to neighbor Rosanne Saunders for baking the treats.


THURSDAY: Will cake soften up the Planning Commission on their last stab at a Master Plan for the Countryside property? My neighbor thinks so … a little cake might just seal a good deal.

The Countryside Neighborhood has used all its powers of persuasion at the sparsely attended Planning Commission work sessions on development of the Master Plan. Friday at noon is the last chance they will have to tweak it.

The next step is an open house for developers and realtors on March 10 starting at 4:00 pm in the EOC. The developers at the last meeting on the property back in October sure didn’t hold back on prospects for development. Realtors are a little more reserved at least in earshot of city staff.

As Chris Chittum, Planning Administrator made clear, council members change and so could these plans no matter what this council confirms. This is not the closure the neighborhood was seeking after 6 years of uncertainty. It’s going to be a long time before anything occurs on the property in this economy. Why the city doesn’t pay off the Carter Bank loan out of the Economic Development Fund to avoid paying more interest is beyond the understanding of the neighborhood.

May Neighborhood Month Picnic at Pavilion

The price range of development keeps sinking. It started off at $300K then down to a $225K minimum as quoted by Assistant Manager Brian Townsend. Now according to Chittum it will be in the medium range of regional residential housing at $180K.

This was not the original plan or even close to it. The homes on Laurel Ridge are $300K and up. The higher-end patio homes are assessed over $200K. The original purpose was to increase the “value” of housing in the city similar to Colonial Green. The value should compare to Colonial Green to improve or maintain the current value of the existing homes.

Townsend was quoted in the past as saying he did not buy the presumption that because the property is in Northwest City it could not accommodate high-end housing.

Neighbors still find golf balls in the grass and can hear the hum of golf carts in the fairway. The pavilion where Countryside Neighborhood Alliance held their May Neighborhood Month picnic and National Night Out Against Crime gatherings is off limits now. Will they have to rely on the farmer to bale the waist-high grass again this year? The city only mows 50 feet (city code) around residences leaving the middle of the fairways grow. 

Tournament Begins To Snake Around Golf Course

The city gets by with this by carefully not calling it a park. It was such beautiful green fairways just a year ago.

No chance for the 6 homes for sale with views of cement bomb barriers, boarded club house, decaying tennis building overgrown with vegetation.

There are still diehard golfers hitting the 11th fairway on nice days. Neighbors pointed to the TV news clip a few weeks ago that filmed Hanging Rock Golf Club overrun with golfers. One owner quietly said to thank city council for closing Countryside and sending all the new business their way.

You are welcome Hanging Rock – Roanoke City gives you their cake.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary, Community

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Comments (3)


March 4th, 2011 at 5:05 PM    

I plan to get my brothers together to trespass at Countryside one last time before the grass begins to grow.

I figure that we can revisit our youth and play the “fairways” as we used to do in our neighborhood fields. as for the greens…we’ll set up some rules. This might be my only opportunity to beat my next oldest brother…if we don’t get arrested.


March 4th, 2011 at 6:43 PM    

Citizens arrest, citizens arrest!!!!

I must take pictures – I still have a T-Shirt for your brother.

Just Me

March 4th, 2011 at 10:40 PM    

And the city wonders why her citizens don’t trust her? First, $300K homes. Then, $250K homes. Now, $180K homes. What next? The “low income housing”- rumors which came from so many other parts of the valley??? I can’t say “No” to those rumors anymore when someone tells me that’s the city’s plan for the property even though I’ve argued they were not true for several years.

As I read the recent Roanoke Times article about the increase in population of Franklin Co. and the lake area in particular, a thought came to mind. People buy and build at the lake because of the lake. What if Franklin Co. announced they were going to drain the lake and build homes, apartments, townhouses, and have commercial development? Isn’t that what happened to those of you who bought home at Countryside because of the golf course?

Although I’ve lived in the city for a very long time, I would not recommend it to anyone. And to think I used to love this place—-emphasis on the “used to”.

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