Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Roanoke City Council Meeting April 16th

Mike Higgins gave our vision for Countryside Golf Course tonight. Mike closed his statement with “The Golf Course is a public good that should be explored as an asset to the quality of life to citizens and visitors alike. The benefits to the city and the region could be tremendous.” Mike did an excellent job. However, there are still those on Council who are steadfast in their direction. That is the bad news. The good news is that three members of Council will come out to meet with neighbors and walk the course. We don’t know what this will yield but we can only hope they have an open mind – Open to a thorough study of the potential for the property as recreation and a profitable attraction.
A big “thank you” to Dan Hale, President of Miller Court Neighborhood, President of the Local Chapter of the NAACP, and neighbor for coming tonight and speaking up for Countryside. He said he was able to get a promise from Mayor Harris to come out and walk the golf course with him. There were several women who spoke on the Mill Mountain Inn and the “amazing” quickness that a Request for Proposal was put out. I won’t go into the spin that was put on that but I think we know how that came about. The first woman (I will have to get their names) spoke about Countryside and the Parks and Recreation Visioning Workshop where at each workshop the “voting” dots covered “Keep Countryside Golf Course“. If you read my Commentary – I say again “don’t agitate the dots“. All who spoke were either Countryside or Mill Mountain and “green space” advocates.
I pontificated also and as usual I got carried away and committed the cardinal sin of actually asking for an answer to the outstanding questions about “airport land lease extension” and the “land swap between the city and the airport” saying we are unable to get a straight answer. Do you think we then received a straight answer? Then I just had to insult the developer’s concept plan by referring to it being drawn by kindergartners that took all of 6 months to draw. Will I ever learn? It is a good thing Mike Higgins has more patience then I do.

I spoke on Item A -1 which was an overrule of the Planning Commission’s vote to deny Shewels a proffer amendment on its plans for building adjacent to Ferncliff. I spoke primarily to make the point that – in conjunction with the Countryside development plan which has Ferncliff opening up all the way to Peters Creek a traffic study should always be required. I knew a proffer to not open up the road was not possible but it was just to make a point.
Per my conversation today with Rick Williams, Planning Commission member, who said they voted it down unanimously … Per Mr. Williams “There are many things about the Schewel proposal that were unacceptable to the PC [Planning Commission] which is why we voted, unanimously as I recall, not to recommend amending the proffered conditions on the previous rezoning. Unfortunately, for too many people in this city, good planning takes a back seat to short term, unwise, and unsustainable so-called economic development.” The only dissenting vote was Councilman Lea.
At the end Mayor Harris asked Ms. Burcham, the City Manager, leading questions on the RFP for Mill Mountain. A long explanation followed and I think I dozed off. Then Mayor Harris asked about the “land swap” and the response was the same as we have heard before. So now you know the answer to … did we get a straight answer!
I saved the best for last. During my turn a bat I said “at the Nov. 20th Council meeting we were told it was going to be an 18 – hole executive golf course” and I asked “why did it shrink to a miniature 9-hole course now”. Ms. Burcham actually denied ever saying that … what? After the gavel fell I went to the Mayor and Council members saying “you looked me in the eye and repeated over and over an 18-hole executive golf course”. How conveniently they say “I don’t remember” and Ms. Burcham said “NO we never said that”. Well, excuse me … see the press release below:

ROANOKE, VA – On Monday, Nov. 20, Roanoke City Council granted an extension to the proposed developer of the Countryside Golf Course site. The development group, headed by Triangle Development Group, LLC, of Richmond, also includes the Victor Foti Company, LLC and Allegheny Construction of Roanoke, and Mike Morgan Engineering of Midlothian.

The development team has indicated that a new golf course concept, an 18-hole Executive Course, would be the centerpiece of the proposed mixed-use development. Executive golf courses are designed to provide for shorter length of time of play, and usually are comprised of a combination of par four and par three holes, with an overall course length of less than 4,000 yards.

The development team continues to refine site concept designs and has requested that they be given additional time to present a proposed overall design concept for the property to the city. The City Council granted such an extension until March 1, 2007.

Of course I sent it to them but I doubt I will get a response. Tomorrow, April 17th, Councilman Dowe will come to my home to talk about Countryside. I hope the weather is nice to take a walk around the clubhouse and pavilion. I’ll give an update on any progress this visit yields.

I thank all the members who came tonight.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Uncategorized

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April 17th, 2007 at 12:57 PM    


Excellent report. Stay strong.


April 17th, 2007 at 7:22 PM    

Apology accepted!

“My apologies. I stand corrected. I did not recall any specific number of holes mentioned, just that the plan called for an executive course.” from Ms. Darlene Burcham, City Manager


April 18th, 2007 at 2:56 AM    

Valerie, you must be mistaken. Anyone knows that you can easily turn a 9 hole executive course in to an 18 hole executive course. All you have to do is dig a hole about halfway through each hole. That way 9 becomes 18! ;)


April 18th, 2007 at 3:45 AM    

Aren’t you just full of yourself tonight, Newt? Ok, so now I wrote it down and will plagiarize the first chance I get.

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