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”

2011 Sustainability Week

For the fifth consecutive year, the Town of Blacksburg, Virginia Tech, and Sustainable Blacksburg have partnered to sponsor Sustainability Week, Sept. 18-24.

There is much that the Town of Blacksburg can do to ensure that we are good stewards of our environment and use our resources in a way that meets not only our needs but also the needs of future generations, including: Continue reading “2011 Sustainability Week”

‘Smart growth’ in Blacksburg

The following letter to the editor originally appeared in the Collegiate Times on Oct. 14, 2009:

What does “smart growth” mean, anyway?

In 2002, developer Bob Pack made plans for a 100,000-square-foot, two-building complex known as Kent Square. He envisioned office, retail and residential spaces in close proximity and sought $2 million in public funds for a 380-space parking garage for downtown shoppers and residents.

While some described the compact, mixed-use development as a prime example of “smart growth,” not everyone supported Pack’s vision for downtown Blacksburg. Opponents argued that the three-story structure would erode Blacksburg’s small town charm. With time the controversy subsided, and the two Kent Square buildings opened in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Continue reading “‘Smart growth’ in Blacksburg”

Make Blacksburg transportation a major priority

The following letter to the editor originally appeared in the Collegiate Times on Sept. 16, 2009:

Today, the Active Commute Celebration on the Drillfield marks the middle of Virginia Cycling and Pedestrian Awareness Week. Cyclists are learning about bike registration and safety, Blacksburg Transit riders are picking up copies of the latest schedule, and U Car Share members are finding out how to register and unlock a vehicle.

In an era with more students bringing their cars and trucks to campus and parking spaces moving farther from academic and residential buildings, we need to do all that we can to reduce traffic and ensure that everyone can find a way to campus and downtown Blacksburg. Not everyone can take a bus to work or ride a bike to school, but we must increase opportunities for those who can and do. Continue reading “Make Blacksburg transportation a major priority”