At the town council meeting on Feb. 26, a new proposal for the Old Blacksburg Middle School construction project was introduced. Several changes were made to the proposal, and the Blacksburg Planning Commission will meet on March 5 to vote on this proposal.
To begin the meeting, the Blacksburg Town Council approved a consent agenda including Resolution 2-F-19, which specifies what Town Council must consider when approving the development of new student-oriented housing.
These specifications in Resolution 2-F-19 are based off a variety of factors, including consideration to the growing number of students at Virginia Tech, the impact of this development on existing neighborhoods. In addition, this resolution provided alignment for these projects to fit with town goals, and to provide guidance for the development of new student housing.
Next, individuals representing the Christiansburg Institute provided information about the organization to the council, sharing its history and plans for the organization.
Afterward, the council unanimously voted for Marc Verniel as town representative for the New River Valley Emergency Communications Regional Authority.
Then the town council proceeded to the discussion about the Old Blacksburg Middle School site.
Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith confirmed updates with the project taking place at the Old Blacksburg Middle School site. Hager-Smith claimed, “there has been a long silence because we have been working hard to get agreement on a development agreement.”
The recent lack of activity has been due to the focus on working on the Development Agreement for the project, which ultimately specifies who pays for what aspects of the project and what will be accomplished.
A revised proposal has been established for two reasons: First, the Blacksburg Planning Commission recommended and approved the project in September 2018, and town code requires action to commence within six months, which did not occur.
Secondly, the new proposal introduced several changes, though the specifics of the new changes were not mentioned at the meeting.
Hager-Smith brought up that the larger issue at hand is funding, and that public funding is needed to support the construction of a parking garage.
“The success of this project is going to rely on adequate parking and a structured setting,” Hager-Smith stated.
The developers claim that there is large funding from private investment, and upon completion of the project, the development will generate a large amount of tax revenue in the Town of Blacksburg and Montgomery County.
On March 5, the Blacksburg Planning Commission will vote again on whether to recommend the development to Town Council.
During the last meeting on Feb. 12, Blacksburg Town Council had a two-hour-long discussion where Green Valley Builders proposed adjustments to its rezoning plan for the development of new apartment homes along Patrick Henry Drive.
Twenty-six citizens expressed their opinions to the council regarding approving the ordinance that would accept this rezoning, meaning if the ordinance did not pass the construction of these apartment homes would not commence.
After hearing from the builders, with 18 citizens against the construction and eight citizens in support of it, Town Council voted 4-3 to approve the ordinance that would accept the rezoning adjustments and allow for the apartments to be developed.
Hager-Smith stated, “I believe this is an opportunity to demonstrate our professed values and to help prevent sprawl.”