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The Roanoke Planning Commission can’t stop a VDOT interchange. Best then to plan for future development.
Monday, February 18, 2013
The Roanoke Planning Commission last week delayed adopting a land-use plan for a large track of undeveloped acreage alongside Interstate 581 not because there were objections to the plan, but because there are objections to the future.
The future, though, will arrive whether or not Roanoke plans for it. The decision by the Virginia Department of Transportation has already been made, the money allocated, and the project soon will start to complete the I-581 interchange with Valley View Boulevard.
When it’s finished, 130 acres — most of it privately held — will be primed for development.
How that development will look and how it will affect bordering neighborhoods depends on how well Roanoke prepares, because the houses, stores and offices will come even without a plan.
The alternative to planning will be one project after another seeking zoning approval without much guidance to suggest if it is a good fit or considers things the community values —items like greenways and waterways, street connections and flood control.
The document before the planning commission considers this and more. It is two years in the making, time spent in a series of meetings and in collaboration with the landowners and people from bordering neighborhoods.
Some are confused by the plan because while it roughs in streets and areas for houses, stores and offices, it lacks specifics they desire.
Those details, though, can emerge only as developers come forward with plans that require zoning changes. A land-use plan offers assurance that developers’ ideas respect the community’s ideas.
Planning commission members understand that, but were reluctant to adopt the plan because it seemed some who raised objections during a public hearing still do not understand what it is and what it will do. The commission delayed a decision until March, time enough to try once again to allay concerns.
But after two years of soothing the same concerns, commission members shouldn’t be surprised if come March 12, the same objections again are raised.
Objections not to the plan itself, but to the future. Best for the commission to adopt the plan and begin to shape the future in a desirable way.
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