“Work with the community”: Residents share concerns regarding possible subdivision in Roanoke County

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A proposed development in Roanoke County is causing both shock and confusion for nearby residents.

“I was really surprised,” said Bill Newbury, a Roanoke County resident. “It would have been nice to know this was going on and being planned before I invested in my home [two months ago].”

Courtesy: Roanoke County Planning Department

R. P. Fralin Inc. is looking to put 124 single-family homes on almost 42 acres along Old Mountain Road, located in the Hollins district. Developers say the price range of the newly-developed homes could range from $260,000 to $375,000.

The property, an isolated wooded-area, sits just between Roanoke County and the City of Roanoke.

During a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 2, planning officials say over 500 letters were distributed to nearby residents about the project application.

Newbury says the notice didn’t come soon enough.

“We had not communication from the developer, and he filed a petition with the board and planning commission last September,” Newbury said.

In a presentation, representatives from R. P. Fralin Inc. stated that the proposed subdivision is a needed demand for the community.

“We’ve had, of late, a lack of inventory in [the] north county [area],” said Robert Fralin, “and so, a testament to Roanoke County and the demand there. There is plenty of demand in [the] north county [area], but there’s a lack of supply.”

Picture taken in front of the proposed development site, located at 5524 Old Mountain Rd.

While some residents understand the benefits, they say the development may also come with it’s fair share of issues. According to an email sent by a resident to the county’s planning commission, growing concerns include a lack of environmental studies, ongoing flooding issues, and increased traffic due to construction.

For Newbury, who lives directly across from the property site, his biggest concern is seeing more vehicles on the surrounding roads.

“That’s very densely populated, and it’s going to add additional traffic,” Newbury said.

For Sandra Lucas, a City of Roanoke resident who has lived along Long Acre Drive for 18 years, her biggest concern is storm water management.

“I live at the bottom of the hill, and this is going to be towards the top of the hill,” said Lucas, “and as we all know, it runs downhill.”

Lucas, Newbury, and several other residents have participated in a handful of virtual meetings, listing their concerns and hoping to come up with solutions.

The best one so far- speaking directly to developers.

“Work with the community. Don’t just do this and expect us to accept it without having some conversations. Do it with responsibility and integrity” Newbury said.

Deborah Ingram, another concerned resident, declined WFXR News’ request for an interview, but she did share the following statement:

Our primary need is to slow down action on his proposal until all sides and all issues are addressed and understood. This is a 3rd Quarter, 2020 Application to Roanoke County from R.P. Fralin, Inc. We (City Residents) were made aware of the Planning Commission’s scheduled vote, less than a month ago; there is a 9” x 12” sign placed on the western side of OMR.

Our City properties bear the burden of added traffic, increased storm water runoff on our aging infrastructure, growing erosion and continued and devastating flooding to our homes and neighborhoods. Mayor Sherman Lea and City Council have heard our preliminary concerns on these issues and many more.

We anticipate their coming to the table in the near future to address our concerns and are certain they will hold the Developer and the County, accountable. We ask them to study this Project’s impact on their City neighborhoods before any ground is disturbed. The County and R.P. Fralin, Inc. have resources to contain this proposed development within their county boundaries. We ask they explore those opportunities.

Deborah Ingram, City of Roanoke Resident

WFXR News also reached out to R. P. Fralin, Inc. regarding the concerns. Representatives provided the folllowing statement:

We are providing new housing to an underserved market by supplying North Roanoke County with a much needed inventory of affordable new homes.   These homes will feature amenities such as granite countertops, nine foot ceilings, hardwoods, ceramic tile, and architectural shingles.   The community will have no more density than that of the adjacent community in Roanoke City from whom the concerns are being voiced.  All storm water, traffic, erosion control,  flooding and any other concern will be in compliance with and permitted by the proper governmental authority including, but not limited to, Roanoke County Engineering and VDOT.  

Specifically, regarding traffic, total traffic generated by this community at completion will be 1,267 vehicle per day.  The road design, per VDOT, can handle 2,000 vehicles per day. 

As for more detail on storm water, approximately 6.5 acres of the subject parcel flows towards the properties within Roanoke City who are voicing most of the concern.  The proposed grading and storm drain design will likely reduce this to less than half that amount in that area.  As with all new community development, stormwater and erosion will be required to meet local and state standards which will generally require reduction of runoff to adjacent properties below existing rates.  This community will meet these requirements. 

The current zoning is Industrial which we believe to be a more onerous use to the adjacent neighbors and the roadways.

Brian McCahill, COO of R.P. Fralin, Inc

Lastly, WFXR News reached out to the Roanoke County Planning Department. In a response via email, a staff member said they weren’t able to comment on pending land use cases.

The project will be presented to the county’s Board of Supervisors on Feb. 23.

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