Project re-presented to council

Published 5:43 pm Thursday, May 10, 2018

Members of the Farmville Town Council received a site plan and a continued discussion for a conditional use permit for a proposed 10-unit multiple family dwelling that would house approximately 30 students in the areas of Appomattox, High and Oak streets during its Wednesday meeting.

Members of the council did not take action as a result of the presentation.

Mike Kelley, the developer for the project, addressed concerns presented at the public hearing from the Farmville Planning Commission in which 20 spoke in opposition to the project, noting that the enclosed hallways and the outward design of the project would match the atmosphere of the surrounding area.

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The property is zoned as District R-3, which can be classified for multiple family dwellings with a conditional use permit, according to the planning commission meeting agenda.

The conditional use permit for the one-acre property was requested by Robert R. and Sherry P. Martin, who previously requested a proposed five-story, 95,000-square-foot student apartment at that site.

Members of the Farmville Planning Commission voted 5 to 2 in favor of denying recommendation to the Farmville Town Council for the project.

Addressing a concern about the site plan, the attorney for Robert R. and Sherry P. Martin, Frank Rennie, confirmed that the proposed building would be considered one building.

Tom Dennison, a member of the public, encouraged the board to keep with the planning commission’s recommendation to deny the conditional use permit for the property.

Town Mayor David Whitus thanked Kelley for presenting and asked him to comment on the commission’s decision to deny recommendation.

“You are aware of the recommendation from the planning commission, that they are basically recommending to the council the conditional use permit be denied based on the fact that it does not fit into the neighborhood,” Whitus said. “Address that for us. You’ve been to the public hearings. You’ve heard the comments.”

Kelley noted a suggestion by At-large Commissioner Chuck Ross to meet with members of the community to discuss a way to find a solution that would benefit the community and the project.

“In this case, we’re not in for a rezoning,” Kelley said. “We’re just in a site plan amendment, and the Martins own this land. They own these houses. I’m here representing them. It’s really their choice of what they want to do with the property, and all I am is an extension to that, being someone who has done this for 38 years in the development side, so I understand everyone’s concerns, try to design something that compliments the neighborhood.”

Kelley said he spoke with Matt King with Walk2Campus, who said that approximately 400 students live between the neighborhood of the proposed project and the foundry located at Longwood University.

He noted concerns about restoring older homes, saying that restoring the Martins’ home that is currently on the property would not eliminate potential safety concerns for students who may look to live there.

“Having four boys in college, safety was always a big issue, and re-doing Bobby and Sherry’s house, it would have been a lot of cut-up, and I don’t think it would have been anywhere near as a safe building to make it nine or 10 rooms like some of the Walk2Campus houses,” Kelley said.