Rezoning the Old Blacksburg High School property, public comment Sept. 10

The public discussion of the rezoning of part of the roughly 36 acres that were once the Blacksburg High School property on Patrick Henry Drive began in earnest this June and continue into the fall.

Part of the land is Montgomery County and 11 acres is within the town.

Applicants Jeanne Stosser of SAS Builders and owner David Hagan of HS Development LLC, submitted the request to rezone the land from R-4 Low Density Residential to Planned Residential for townhome and civic use and the Montgomery County zoning, not subject to the rezoning request, is R2.

The high school building was condemned after the gymnasium collapsed in 2010 and the ownership of the property was transferred from Montgomery County to HS Development in 2017.

On Aug. 6, the Blacksburg Planning Commission denied, by a 6-0 vote, the rezoning application for a 111-unit townhouse development citing inappropriateness of the design to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Public comments at the planning commission meeting voiced concerns about traffic, student renters, affordability and asked the council to “reconsider yet another PRD rezoning in an established residential neighborhood.”

Some encouraged the town to purchase the 11 acres for green space they said was being lost to development like the “huge” Old Middle School development in the center of town. Not everyone spoke against the rezoning.

The day following the denial, the developers submitted a letter addressing “appropriateness” reducing the unit number to 100 with single-family home design and postulating that townhomes are not inappropriate to neighborhood sensibility, but that reduced density may also help address that concern.

A public hearing will be held and final vote taken on Sept. 10.

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—- Liz Kirchner