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Board approves driving range, condos

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By John Barnhart

A driving range and a condo project, recommended for approval last month by the Bedford County Planning Commission, received the final go ahead from the Bedford County Board of Supervisors Monday night.

The driving range will be located on Va. 608, a short distance from its intersection with Va. 122. It will be right next to the site of a diner, already approved, and near a drive-in theater that is now under construction.

It will be operated by Elmer Craft, of Vinton, and will have 20 tee boxes. Netting, up to 50 feet high, will surround the range on three sides to make sure golf balls stay on the property. Craft needed a special use permit for the project.

The supervisors unanimously approved the request.

Also approved, by a 5-2 vote, was a rezoning that clears the way for a condominium project called The Gables of Jefferson Commons. This will consist of nine buildings each with 24 units.

In order to build this, the property had to be rezoned from C-1 (Office District) to R-4 (High Density Multi-Family Residential). It will be located in Forest off U. S. 221 between Rustic Village Road and Bateman Bridge Road. The rezoning does not affect the section of the 16.5 acre property that fronts U. S. 221. Those three acres will remain commercial.

Trent Warner of Guffey, Warner and Associates, a Lynchburg engineering firm handling the project, said that he has met with District 4 School Board Member Gary Hostutler to discuss the project's potential impact on schools. Warner asserted that the project won't burden the school system.

"We did not add amenities to bring children into the site," Warner said, noting that the size of the units makes them unsuitable for large families.

"This type of development just doesn't see children in it," he said.

Warner also said that there is a demand for housing in the $100,000 to $150,000 price range as well as a shortage of this type of housing in Bedford County. The condo units would sell for $125,000.

According to figures Warner provided, this property would provide $15,000 in annual tax revenue if developed with six commercial buildings. The condo development will bring in $135,000 in revenue annually.

District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington described the project as a win/win proposition, an assertion with which District 1 Supervisor Dale Wheeler agreed. Wheeler noted that the property fronting U. S. 221 is the most viable for commercial development and the condos shouldn't put much burden on the taxpayers.

County Administrator Kathleen Guzi noted that the rezoning is in compliance with the county's new land use map. The map calls for mixed use in that area.

The two dissenting supervisors were Board Chairman Chuck Neudorfer and District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek. Neudorfer questioned the project's impact on demand for public water and sewer and added that there is no shortage of residential development in the Forest area to support commercial development.

"The whole world can't live in Bedford County," commented Cheek.

A proposal to generate a paper road near this project, in order to allow the county to expand the Forest Convenience Center, generated some concern from people who live nearby. The right of way for the road, called Old Grant Road, and some property lines were laid out in 1915 for a project that was never built.

According to Carl Boggess, the county attorney, this convenience center receives 370 tons of trash and garbage every month, twice that of any other in the county. On a Saturday, an average of 50 vehicles per hour come in.

The neighbors have no problem with expanding the convenience center. Vacating the paper road is what concerns them. Troy Bowyer said that land near his home is commercial property. Vacating this paper road means that the property has no access to U. S. 221 and the only way out would be through his neighborhood.

"We have a lot of kids in the neighborhood," he said.

Virginia Wilson noted that the road that would have to be used is a 12-foot gravel road.

They want all the paper roads to be vacated.

Boggess said that he has discussed these concerns with the neighbors and said that they could file a petition to have this done. He also noted that, when the county purchased the property to expand the convenience center from the owners of the commercially zoned property in question, the owners gave up their right to access U. S. 221.