Friday, March 18, 2011

Roanoke Planning Commission and Countryside neighbors make a good team

Countryside Property Planned Greenway and Feeder Trails

Though it has been a long six months of Planning Commission work sessions on the Countryside ex-golf course property it has been fruitful for our neighborhood. At first I worried that commission members sparsely attended most of the work sessions. There were always more neighbors attending then Planning Commission members.

Our (we have claimed him for our own) Rick Williams never missed a one. Not only that he toured the property on his own at least once and attended a neighborhood meeting for two hours. He took my YouTube clip of airplane noise (below) over fairway 12 and sought feedback from a developer. He read every bit of material I sent him including the Roanoker magazine article as it pertained to appraisers and developers.

Thursday they put the final touches on the Master Plan that will eventually be incorporated into the City’s Comprehensive Plan. It will be separate from the Peters Creek North Plan and I assume aptly named “The Countryside Plan.”

Channel 10 did a brief clip of the Planning Commission Meeting Thursday but left out some important points at least to me. Thanks to Chris Chittum, Planning Administrator we had hard copies of the Master Plan as pictured on Roanoke City’s website. It made it easier for me to reference when addressing the commission.

Mr. Chittum attended our last neighborhood meeting as well as a previous meeting held at the beginning of the process. At our Monday, March 14 meeting I explained that I would ask the commission to strike the lease/sale of the green space formerly the 10th and 12th fairway for vineyards or an orchard.

The purpose of the plan is to give our neighborhood “certainty” of what will go where. Chittum had used the term “for the foreseeable future.” This is not what we wanted to hear and as council mentioned that is what they expect for the neighborhood and the whole purpose of the plan.

There was successful dialogue resulting in the conclusion to strike that language. Other minor discussion was on a location of a park; apartment definitions and the use of the $1.5 million  on the CIP (Capital Improvement Project) under Parks and Rec for fiscal year 2012.

At the March 7 briefing the “$1.5 million is specifically for Countryside,” said Amelia Merchant, Director of Management and Budget.  Morrill said, “what we’re recommending is that we focus on Countryside … focus of passive and active recreation.”

I asked the commission if they could make a recommendation to council on using the $1.5 million for the greenway feeder trails and low maintenance passive natural areas that will accompany them. It may even make it possible to add the trailhead at the pond on what was fairway 16.

I explained that by sprucing the area up it would be more inviting to developers. Not only that if agreed to by council it would go a long way in healing some very deep neighborhood wounds. Looking at a hay field for another year is not palatable.

At council I will also request that the fairways be mowed in their entirety. With 50 feet being mowed around residences there is a middle part that could be mowed in short order. Of concern to the neighborhood and confirmed by fire personnel there is risk of fire. To explain that simply – with waist tall grass in drought conditions on a breezy day it would take only a flick of a cigarette to ignite what I call a “prairie fire.”

I will also request a member(s) (me or other) be part of the review team when proposals come in (page 25 of the plan).

That’s about it except the hugs with Rick Williams and handshakes with the rest. A kudos to the commission and Chittum and kudos back from Henry Scholz saying “he wished all neighborhoods would be so involved” and thanked us for our help. Oddly but deeply appreciated he said they couldn’t have done it without our help.

I told him later that I was recommending them for Elmwood Park LOL!!!

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

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