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”

Sutphin: Let’s talk about solutions

The following op-ed originally appeared in The Roanoke Times on Dec. 7, 2014:

The logjam over the Old Blacksburg Middle School property has some doubting whether the 20-acre site in the heart of downtown Blacksburg has a future beyond an empty lot and occasional spats between governing bodies. But it certainly does.

Government handwringing over the property is not without cause: For the town, it has the potential to extend downtown with a high-quality, mixed-use development that adds to Blacksburg’s commercial and residential offerings. For the county, it brings much-needed revenue for a school system that has faced cuts from Richmond, as well as a pressing need for new schools in Blacksburg and eastern Montgomery County.

My colleagues Leslie Hager-Smith and John Bush have already explained the intricacies of town-county relations and the reason for the current impasse — namely, the contract between the county and its hand-picked developer, Fiddlers Green Partners. Despite these challenges, a solution does exist that will benefit both the town and county. Continue reading “Sutphin: Let’s talk about solutions”