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.

Regional cooperation

  • Participated in a joint meeting with the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors in April to discuss the future of the Old Blacksburg Middle School site and penned a recent op-ed in the Roanoke Times about moving forward on the property.
  • As part of my continued responsibilities on the Metropolitan Planning Organization Board, voted for a $65,000 feasibility study on bringing passenger rail service to the New River Valley.
  • Began appointment to the New River Valley Planning District Commission.

Smart growth and environment

  • Voted to establish a stormwater utility and system of stormwater utility fees. This is the result of recent statewide regulations that went into effect in 2014 to deal with stormwater runoff, the No. 1 source of surface water pollution in the United States.
  • Voted to legalize contraflow bicycle lanes and establish one on Draper Road Extended.
  • Voted for a resolution opposing the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline and signed a letter against Appalachian Power’s attempt to bill “standby” charges to homeowners with large solar panel systems who want to send extra power back into the grid.

Neighborhoods and housing

  • Voted for a series of amendments to the Blacksburg Comprehensive Plan. This included changes to the Future Land Use Map as a part of the council-directed Prices Fork Corridor Study.

This list is not comprehensive, but it does give a snapshot of the many issues under consideration in 2014. Next year, the town’s response to housing development proposals will continue to be a major source of discussion and debate, with public hearings on the proposed Warren Street, Blacksburg Estates, and The Retreat developments expected in coming months. The town will also need to find a way to pay for the increased demand for town services and capital projects, such as the new rescue squad station.

As you know, next year is also a local election year. It has been my pleasure to serve on the Town Council for the past three years. I will be making an announcement about whether I am running for reelection in early 2015. As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (540) 257-4951 or msutphin@blacksburg.gov.

Happy New Year!

Michael

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