A look back at 2017

Friends,

While the Blacksburg election may have grabbed local headlines in 2017, the Town Council continued its work throughout the year. I wanted to update you on a few of our accomplishments over the past 12 months:

  • Legalized new accessory apartments through a permit program, which encourages owner occupancy and provides an avenue for affordable home ownership
  • Established a council-appointed Business Relations Committee, which provides a forum for businesses to discuss development issues, make recommendations to improve the business climate, and provide input on the town’s economic development initiatives
  • Participated in preliminary discussions about the Old Blacksburg Middle School redevelopment, which will be one of the biggest land use issues facing Blacksburg in 2018
  • Voted to issue general obligation capital improvement bonds to finance almost $4.8 million in town infrastructure projects, ranging from roof replacements and sidewalk projects, to the golf course renovation and a feasibility study for a new police station
  • Voted for an ordinance to make street parking permits cheaper and improve the operation and enforcement of the permit parking system, along with a separate ordinance to create limited residential permit parking zones
  • Updated the apartment recycling ordinance to make recycling more convenient for residents
  • Accepted a donation of park land from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors
  • Continued to advocate for our fair share of transportation funding as a town representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (I was also appointed to the SmartWay Advisory Committee)

Continue reading “A look back at 2017”

Accessory apartments

Tonight, I was proud to vote in favor of an ordinance to establish an accessory apartment permit program in Blacksburg. This is an issue that has been championed by Vice Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith over the years and came into fruition today.

These apartments go by many names: mother-in-law suites, basement apartments, garage apartments, granny flats, etc. They were popular in the early part of the 20th century but fell out of favor after World War II when suburban-style development began to take hold. In Blacksburg, they were allowed until 1976, when a town ordinance banned the construction of new accessory apartments due to concerns about occupancy, parking, and neighborhood character. In recent years, towns and cities around the country have begun to reconsider this housing type. I am pleased that Blacksburg has passed an ordinance that, while allowing accessory apartments, protects our neighborhoods and quality of life. Continue reading “Accessory apartments”

Election Day 2015

Friends,

It’s Election Day again! Four years ago, I was elected to my first term on the Blacksburg Town Council, and now John Bush, Leslie Hager-Smith, and I are running unopposed for our council seats. Thanks to your support and encouragement, these past few years have been phenomenal and I am proud of my record of service to our community:

  • Supported downtown businesses by voting to purchase land to expand public parking, establish a downtown refuse and recycling program, and create a Live/Work/Sell Arts Overlay District to encourage owner-occupied arts businesses near downtown
  • Celebrated the completion of the College Avenue Promenade and the opening of the IMAX at First & Main
  • Advocated for our fair share of transportation funds through my role as a town representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization
  • Worked to bring more affordable housing opportunities to our town through two years of service on the Blacksburg Housing and Community Development Advisory Board and support for rezoning requests on Grissom Lane and Givens Lane
  • Sought a pragmatic and sustainable approach to local development that allows Blacksburg to grow but protects neighborhoods and quality of life through votes on numerous rezoning requests and a five-year update to the town’s Comprehensive Plan
  • Served as a town representative on the 10-Year Economic Development Plan Steering Committee and the Blacksburg Partnership Board of Directors
  • Voted yes on resolutions to preserve Stadium Woods, save Harding Avenue Elementary School, and oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Continue reading “Election Day 2015”

2014 highlights

Friends,

With the New Year just around the corner, I would like to take this time to update you about my past 12 months. This has been a busy but productive year on the Blacksburg Town Council:

Economic development

  • Began appointment as a town representative to the Blacksburg Partnership Board of Directors in January. Previously, I had served for over two years on the Blacksburg Housing and Community Development Advisory Board.
  • Voted for special signage districts for the LewisGale Montgomery Regional Hospital, the North End Center, and First & Main. (The First & Main request originally called for a nearly 400-square-foot LED screen on the side of the new IMAX building, but this was pulled before the 6-1 vote.)
  • Voted to purchase the old Nerve building behind The Cellar in order to expand parking there. The town also completed a downtown parking study with input from downtown businesses and added more handicap and motorcycle parking spaces. Continue reading “2014 highlights”