Announcing my re-election campaign

Michael Sutphin for Town CouncilFriends,

I am excited to announce that I am running for re-election to the Blacksburg Town Council alongside Council Members John Bush and Jerry Ford. While we are running unopposed for our council seats, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and encouragement. I am proud of the Town Council’s record of service to the community over the past four years:

  • Voted unanimously in favor of a rezoning and development agreement for the Old Blacksburg Middle School property. This site will include a new police station, parking garage, hotel, office buildings, apartments, and a three-acre park.
  • Reviewed numerous requests for additional housing in Blacksburg. Throughout the discussions, I have considered the effects of Virginia Tech growth on our neighborhoods and community.
  • Supported the Downtown Strategic Plan, which presents a forward-thinking vision for our downtown.
  • Made changes to the Zoning Ordinance to allow food trucks, homestays, accessory apartments, and backyard chickens. Continue reading “Announcing my re-election campaign”

Sutphin and Bush: What Virginia Tech’s over-enrollment means for Blacksburg

The following commentary originally appeared in The Roanoke Times on May 26, 2019:

Since Virginia Tech made headlines for surpassing its student enrollment goals, there’s been an understandable tension in Blacksburg.

The university had a target of 6,600 incoming freshmen, but it overshot that number considerably. The official release from the university puts the incoming student population between 7,500 and 7,585 students, but this assumes a higher-than average percentage of students who accepted this spring will not enroll in the fall. If this “melt” rate is the same as previous years, the incoming class will have approximately 7,625 students, or 1,025 over Virginia Tech’s admissions target.

That’s a lot of students — 1,340 more than last year’s incoming class and almost 800 more than the university’s largest-ever freshman class in 2017. For comparison’s sake, The Edge student apartments adjacent to campus has about 910 bedrooms. Continue reading “Sutphin and Bush: What Virginia Tech’s over-enrollment means for Blacksburg”

2018 highlights

Friends,

Now that we have welcomed the New Year, I wanted to update you about the Blacksburg Town Council’s work over the past 12 months. With a new mayor, new council members, and a special election behind us, this was a year of change for Blacksburg. But it was also a productive year in many areas:

  • Voted in favor of rezoning the Old Blacksburg Middle School property as a newly appointed member of the Blacksburg Planning Commission. The town and developers are working out the details on a development agreement, which governs the business aspects of the project such as the town’s contributions for public parking and infrastructure. Town Council anticipates voting on both the rezoning and development agreement in the coming months.
  • Reviewed rezoning requests for Hearthstone, Habitat for Humanity, Airport Acres, Cedar Run Overlook, Uptown, Research Center Drive, and Terrace View with an eye on neighborhood context and Blacksburg’s housing needs. In the case of Airport Acres, I voted against the rezoning. (In my role as a Planning Commissioner, I also voted on other rezoning requests which have not yet come to Town Council.)
  • Met with Virginia Tech officials to learn about the campus master plan and its impact on the Town of Blacksburg, especially downtown, and participated in public meetings with Development Strategies to plan for our downtown’s future.
  • Continued to support amenities that make Blacksburg a good place to live. For example, Council approved a lease with the new owners of the old Blacksburg High School to allow continued use of the recreation facilities and accepted and appropriated funds for the Mountain Bike Skills Park.
  • Supported the launch of the Roam New River Valley bike share—a successful partnership involving Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Montgomery County, and Virginia Tech.
  • Voted to expand the town boundary to add the Meadows park following a land donation from Montgomery County.
  • Voted to update the town code regarding picketing and demonstrations to clarify the process and add safety provisions.
  • Continued to advocate for our regional transportation needs as a representative on the Metropolitan Planning Organization board and SmartWay Advisory Committee.
  • Approved resolutions in support of the Equal Rights Amendment and campaign finance limits and transparency.

Continue reading “2018 highlights”

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”

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”