Apartment foes need legal reason

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Farmville Ward A Councilman Greg Cole, our council member, did an excellent job arranging for area residents an opportunity to discuss their concerns and have the opportunity to discuss the proposed 120-unit apartment complex with real estate developer Russell Harper, who is seeking a conditional use permit for the project.

One suggestion was to see if there could be a larger buffer provided to those living in The Greens subdivision. The other concern was the access to South Main Street and the traffic volume.

The residents who strongly oppose the building of the apartments must face one fact. The property is zoned B4, which allows for apartments to be built. For the council to reject the project, there must be a valid legal reason, not just they don’t want apartments there.

The B4 zoning restricts the apartments to 10 units per acre. While there has been discussion of 120 units, if one did not include the road accessing the area for the apartments, there seems to be perhaps only 10 acres to actually be developed, which would mean only 100 units. The council, I am sure, will ascertain the precise acreage that can be used in the project to meet the zoning code.

The adjoining land is zoned R1, which means no apartments can be built on it.

However, the town council might approve variances to allow some parking areas or other uses to increase the buffer area along The Greens properties with an alternative development plan.

The proposed two additional accesses to the property did offer some relief to the concern about the traffic. However, the use of the existing road to access South Main Street still seems to be a major concern.

There has been resistance to the idea of moving the road utilizing some of the acre of land that was bought by the Town of Farmville for the holding pond. But, when one considers that allowing this to happen could improve the safety of the access to South Main Street (moving it further from the stop light at Milnwood), it seems very reasonable. That would be a significant improvement over the location of the current road. Legally the developer could use this existing road.

Cole did point out that the council would define those restrictions, which must be met by the developer, to consider such things as noise, buffer area, lighting and traffic to protect the interest and property values of the neighbors. That is the sole purpose of the conditional permit. The conditional permit has no authority over if apartments can be built. That B4 zoning already allows apartments to be built.

Harper was proud of the proposed upscale apartments that are planned to be developed and emphasizes his firm’s studies shows a demand does exist in Farmville. I applaud Cole and the town council’s efforts to be neutral as they gather the information needed to make an informed and legal decision concerning the project.

There are additional parcels of land zoned B4 that are for sale. Perhaps, along with the plans to improve the Milnwood Road intersection, additional consideration should be given to providing a middle turn lane along this stretch of road anticipating future development of this area.

Similarly, perhaps Peery Drive can be extended providing alternative traffic flow solutions. That was the design that was effectively used for the businesses and shopping mall just beyond this area.

I have often thought that Virginia Street might be used as a bypass for the tremendous traffic flow and congestion we now see on Main Street.

Seems the council has to consider future development to assure effective planning.

Robert Mottley lives in Farmville. His email address is raminvest@aol.com.