Summers Properties interested in possible multi-family development

The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors decided it wants a more “holistic” approach to considering whether to make a change to how the future land use on the west side of US 220 just north of Botetourt Center at Greenfield.

And because of that, the board took no action on a request for a public hearing to change the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan to designate 185 acres just north of Botetourt Center at Greenfield for Medium Residential Density.

Summers Properties LLC, whose principals are Dale Wilkinson and David Spigle, asked the supervisors to make the change to the county’s Future Land Use Map in the Comprehensive Plan so 40 acres the company owns and 48 acres it has an option on might be zoned for higher residential density

The property is on the west side of US 220 and south of Country Club Road. The request points out that the Future Land Use Map already designates property on the east side of US 220 as Medium Residential Density. Parts of Ashley Plantation lie behind the property that fronts on the east side of US 220.

Bobby Wampler of Engineering Concepts Inc. made the request on behalf of Summers Properties LLC.

The county’s planning and zoning office recommended the proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan go before the Planning Commission for a public hearing, then to the supervisors.

The supervisors decided they’d like to have an informal meeting with the planners to discuss the options for changing the future land use for that area.

Supervisor John Williamson worried that making the whole area Medium Residential Density might land lock the Greenfield industrial area. He thought it might be worth considering having part of the area next to Greenfield considered for additional industrial development.

In his letter to the Planning Manager/Zoning Administrator Nicole Pendleton, Wampler cited the county’s recent Housing Summit as one reason for the request. He complimented the county’s “proactive approach” to what is expected to be an affordable housing shortage because of the many new jobs coming to the county.

“We are confident that the Comprehensive Plan amendment that we are proposing fits the goals of Botetourt County expressed through our meetings and recent studies provided by the county,” he wrote.

A change to the Future Land Use Map would open the door for Summers Properties LLC to request that the 40 acres it owns be rezoned for a possible multi-family development. The company also holds an option on an adjoining 48 acres that belongs to the Garland Jones family.

That property is accessed off US 220 while the Summers property is accessed off Country Club Road.

The 185 acres cited in the request includes other property along US 220 between the Jones property and Botetourt Center at Greenfield, which also fronts on US 220. Wampler says the Jones property is 535 feet from the Greenfield Business Park.

Wampler listed 10 reasons the county should consider making the Future Land Use Map change, including several that came from the Housing Study and Housing Summit the county had done and hosted.

He cited the 1,328 new jobs projected for the county and the proximity of the Summers’ property to Greenfield, the “very limited land zoned for higher density” use and the fact that designating the west side of US 220 would match the designation of east side of the four-lane highway in that area.

Wampler noted that, according to its Housing Study and during the Housing Summit, there’s a need to update the Comprehensive Plan to allow a mix of market rental and affordable housing because the county lacks those types of housing.

Wampler said in his letter that the greater Roanoke Region has a 2.3 percent vacancy rate for multi-family units, indicating a strong market for this type of housing, and the apartment unit demand is larger than the supply, according to the Housing Study.

Wampler says the affordable housing need is immediate, according to the Housing Summit participants, and providing that type of housing could help reverse the decline in school enrollment in county schools and possibly lower the demographic age for the community.

Wampler continued that the size of the two parcels Summers Properties is considering for development is “the right size…. It is not too big in order to maintain the rural character of the county and allow for proper buffers to natural areas.”

He said the location is “right” because of the proximity to many of the new jobs and access to public utilities. He also said it caters the demographic audience the county is targeting and there are “many opportunities that could be explored to link this area through trains or smaller road sections to keep traffic off the existing county roadways. Residents in this area would have options to live, work (Altec, Ballast Point, Eldor, shell building), play (Greenfield Recreation Park) and go to school (Greenfield Elementary) all within an area that is less than a two-mile walk.”

— Ed McCoy