A planned animal testing facility in Christiansburg’s Falling Branch Industrial Park is now on hold and might not be brought back to the drawing board any time soon.
Last month, town council received a request from the Montgomery County Economic Development Authority (EDA) to consider a change to its current zoning ordinance that would allow such an industry.
But just two weeks later, the group withdrew the request. In a Feb. 20 letter to Christiansburg Town Manager Randy Wingfield, Brian Hamilton said the EDA was officially withdrawing the matter.
The letter did not say whether the request would come up again in the future, and county spokesperson Jennifer Harris said she was not aware of any plans to bring it back.
Once the matter became public last month, several individuals expressed concern over what type of experimenting could happen at such a facility, which was considered for a site at 145 Technology Drive.
Hamilton said previously that the current zoning did not define such an industry and limited the EDA in marketing sites in the park to that type of business.
Christiansburg’s planning commission said that this type of facility could be allowed with a conditional use permit, but there could be the option of amending the zoning ordinance to allow animal testing and research “by-right” with limitations in the future. But for now, the town will not have to worry about changing anything in its zoning policy.
In other news
The town is moving ahead with a new noise ordinance after a faceoff with the Starlite Drive-In. Late last year, the town cited the business for multiple noise violations from a recently installed speaker system.
A Montgomery County judge then told the town to examine its current noise ordinance and find a solution that both parties could live with.
A public meeting was held Thursday and a second is scheduled for Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m. in the town’s administration conference room to hear public comment. The planning commission will then hold a public hearing on March 19 with possible action at its April meeting.
Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on April 10 with a possible vote at the April 24 meeting.
Under the proposed changes, the Starlite would be required to request a conditional use permit that would allow an outdoor speaker.
One of the biggest changes is the minimum distance that the sound could be heard from its origin. The current noise ordinance says 50 feet, but under the new one, it would be change to 100 feet or more.
Starlite owners have argued that their type of business should be listed as an exemption.
While the new provision does not go that far, it does say that they could be exempted if they receive a conditional use permit and remain within the required distance of the noise itself.
Changes also call for the fine for the first offense of noise to increase from $75 to $250. The fine would increase to $500 after any other offense thereafter.
After 10 p.m., the allowable noise distance would change to 50 feet.