266 apartments at Botetourt Commons get OK, supervisors delay decision on Sheetz until January

The contrast between two public hearings about two Daleville developments that were before the Botetourt Board of Supervisors last week was stark enough it prompted Supervisor John Williamson III to comment on it.

He wondered aloud to his colleagues whether they would have ever thought the board would have a 266-apartment project come before them and not draw any public comments.

That comment came right after the supervisors approved rezoning 17.8 acres in Daleville for the county’s first “High Density” development.

The public hearing for the apartment complex that is now slated for the end of Commons Parkway in Botetourt Commons drew no comments from citizens— at the board’s public hearing last Tuesday night nor at the Planning Commission public hearing in early November.

That contrasted significantly with the public hearing for a proposed Sheetz convenience store and car wash at the corner of US 220 and Catawba Road, a scant one mile north of the Commons Parkway intersection with US 220.

While traffic, traffic congestion and safety were main concerns for most of the 25 residents who spoke and the more than 100 in the audience about the Sheetz proposal, there was no public concern for the increased traffic the apartments are expected to bring to the Daleville area.

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Assistant Resident Engineer Brian Blevins, when asked about traffic impact from the apartments, even noted it would have a different kind of impact than the proposed Sheetz.

Traffic to the apartment complex, he said, would be destination traffic, which meant it would increase the vehicle trips per day at that intersection, unlike most of the traffic that would use the Sheetz— traffic that’s already there.

The Board of Supervisors members had their own concern about traffic congestion at the Sheetz location and deferred acting on the proposed rezoning and special exceptions permits (SEP) needed for the project to evaluate additional proffers the developers offered for the intersection.

At the close of the two-hour public hearing on the Sheetz proposal, Amsterdam District Supervisor Todd Dodson said county staff, VDOT and the supervisors need to review the developer’s proffers to pay for a dedicated right-turn lane from Catawba Road onto US 220 and to extend the northbound left-turn lane on US 220 in front of the property.

He said the county needs to be sure the proffers are right and that VDOT needs to be involved in looking at the road proffers in depth.

The board voted 5-0 on his motion to table the matter for 60 days (later amended to the board’s January meeting).

That means two new supervisors will be seated for that decision— Steve Clinton from the Amsterdam District and Ray Sloan from the Buchanan District. Clinton was the second speaker during last week’s public hearing about the Sheetz rezoning and SEPs. He is opposed to having a Sheetz on the corner because of what he called “a host of safety issues.” He drew applause from the audience when he told the supervisors that in the past residents didn’t want US 220 through Daleville to look like Williamson Road in Roanoke. “This does that,” he said of the Sheetz proposal.

Richard Pauley, who owns the corner lot, disagreed. “I think it would be a positive for the county,” he told the supervisors.

“Here’s somebody willing to fix it (with turn lanes). I haven’t seen anybody else willing to,” he told the supervisors.

The supervisors’ public hearing essentially mirrored the one the Planning Commission held just two weeks before.

Residents in the area were concerned that the Sheetz would create more traffic congestion at the Catawba Road/US 220 intersection, especially without a dedicated left-turn lane off Catawba Road into the proposed development.

The developers proffered to dedicate the needed right-of-way and to pay for a dedicated right-turn lane from Catawba Road onto southbound US 220— a recommendation in an intersection study the supervisors commissioned.

The developers also proffered to pay for extending the US 220 left-turn lane, which backs up into the northbound US 220 left through lane at certain times.

The developers’ plans call for having the Catawba Road entrance 280 feet from the intersection, a distance they said provides enough distance so vehicles won’t back up into the intersection if someone is waiting to turn into the Sheetz.

That did not satisfy several residents who believe only a dedicated left turn lane would solve that potential problem.

Residents in the Azalea Road area were concerned about added cut-through traffic in their neighborhood should a Sheetz go in, and wondered why a stop sign there still hasn’t been installed to help slow current cut-through traffic.

Others were concerned about the effect on small businesses in the area, potential crime, lighting and noise from a 24-hour convenience store.

The developers’ proffers and site plan show that they meet and mostly exceed the county’s lighting and noise ordinances.

There were also several speakers in support of the proposed development.

To consider any other proffers offered by the developers, the supervisors would have to reopen the public hearing on the proposal, Zoning Administrator Nicole Pendleton said.

The supervisors could approve rezoning two small lots being considered for the project from M-2 Manufacturing to B-2 business, as requested, but not approve the SEPs for a convenience store and car wash.

At least one supervisor noted that the two M-1 lots look like spot zoning, although the zoning staff could not find when or why those lots were zoned manufacturing, dating back to when the county first adopted zoning more than 50 years ago.

If the supervisors deny the rezoning and SEPs, the property owners have to wait a year to apply for either of those again.

 

Botetourt Commons Apartments

In comparison, the supervisors breezed through the public hearing for the Marlett LLC and Cathcart Group proposal for an eight-building, 266-apartment complex at the end of Commons Parkway in Botetourt Commons.

Earlier in the day, the supervisors voted 5-0 to add a new Residential R-4 or High Density Use District to the county zoning ordinance along with some other changes. The High Density District then made way for the Botetourt Commons proposal.

The supervisors rezoned the parcels from Shopping Center (SC) Use District and Agricultural (A-1) Use District to the new High Density District and approved the SEP request that allows for up to 15 multi-family dwellings per acre.

There would be amenities such as a centralized clubhouse and pool, tot lot/playground, dog park, a series of pedestrian sidewalks throughout the development and a recreation court.

The developers will provide a 30-foot easement for a future greenway trail along Tinker Creek. The approximately five acres are located in the regulatory floodplain along the creek.

The Charlottesville-based developers told the supervisors they came to Botetourt because of the housing study done by Stu Patz, with S. Patz and Associates Inc. The developers said they’d worked with Patz in the past and he highly recommended they look at Botetourt.

They liked what they saw because of the new jobs coming because of Eldor and Ballast Point, and expansions at Dynax and Altec.

The developers said the project, which will be done in phases, will provide about $293,000 in tax revenue for the county.

The company does high-end complexes, they told the supervisors, and the rentals on the apartments will be $950 to $1,400 a month, depending on the number of bedrooms. They will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

The supervisors did wonder if traffic backup on northbound US 220 at the Botetourt Commons stoplight will be affected by the new apartments.

VDOT Assistant Resident Engineer Brian Blevins told the supervisors the double-turn lanes into Botetourt Commons should handle the increased traffic because most of the people going to the apartments will use the inside turn lane, which is not used as much by those going to the Kroger part of the development.

He said he didn’t expect the traffic to be more than what a new business might produce. He said it will be new traffic, though.

When asked, the developers said a basic rule of thumb is there’s a need for one apartment for each three new jobs.

Williamson told the developers he was glad they are coming to Botetourt and bringing the types of apartments the supervisors had hoped for.

He noted with this development, the supervisors will have approved about the right number of new apartments for the expected job growth.

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