BLACKSBURG—Neighbors in the Airport Acres community near Margaret Beeks Elementary School are strenuously opposing a rezoning proposal for six acres on Airport Road citing concerns over scale and affordability of an “aging in place” development.
The request to rezone (RZN17-007) 801 and 803 Airport from the R-4 Low Density Residential Zoning District to the PR Planned Residential Zoning District in a development called Huckleberry Vistas was made late last year, with a neighborhood meeting being held shortly after in December.
Since then, at least 500 signatures have been collected and 162 pages of citizen correspondence have been submitted to accompany the formal staff report to the town council.
Those citizen comments frequently cite the height of the three story buildings proposed and their price point affecting the mid-century neighborhood’s scale, its cohesion and history, suggesting that the proposed development will be a gated community or “football condos.”
A public hearing will be held Tuesday and is expected to be well attended.
“The development can and should be within R4 zoning. We need affordable housing. So many people want to live in this Blacksburg neighborhood, a primary reason being near Margaret Beeks Elementary School,” wrote Dawn Gietzen, a neighbor who started to gather petitions door-to-door.
“As a community we aren’t saying there can’t be development, but we need affordable homes to be built such that the size of these homes make them additions to the community. At the proper scale they are a welcomed extension of our quaint, beautiful, walkable Airport Acres neighborhood, rather than be an unwelcomed, exclusive complex of monoliths,” she wrote.
The developer, the Lester Group, proposes nine buildings of single-family homes, a duplex and multi-family homes where resident will be ages 55 and up. The houses will stand around a common greenspace with shared driveway access off Fairview Avenue according to the request received by the Planning and Building Department.
“The developer has never given a solid argument to justify the zoning change request from R4 to PR. If granted, please remember, this will set a precedent. Rezoning these parcels will enable developers to point to it as precedent for more and larger developments. If this takes place, it is likely just the beginning,” Gietzen wrote.
The Planning Commission Public Hearing is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Roger E. Hedgepeth Chambers of the Blacksburg Municipal Building (300 S. Main St).
Following the public hearing, the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the Town Council.