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”

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”