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County to hold informational meeting

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By John Barnhart

Bedford County residents, potential neighbors of the proposed Oakwood Villas development, will have a chance to learn more about it tomorrow night. A neighborhood informational meeting will be held Thursday, at 7 p.m. in the County Administration Building's ground floor training room.

The development, proposed as a condominium retirement community, consists of 108 units. Most of it is in the city of Bedford but, according to George Nester, the county's director of community development, 40 would be in Bedford County. The 10 acres that comprise the Bedford County portion of the development are currently zoned R-1 (low density residential), which does not allow condos.

Nester said that the developers want the land zoned PRD (planned residential development). He said that a PRD zone permits higher density than other zonings that allow condominiums. Nester expects the development to bring 216 additional people to the area, assuming an average of two people per unit.

He doesn't expect it to have much impact on area schools, but there could be cases of school age children living with their grandparents and families could move into the development as well.

Bedford rezoned its portion of the development to PRD in August. At that time, the developers stated that, although they will be marketing the condos to retirees, anyone could buy one. Prices would start at $250,000.

The rezoning process in Bedford brought out significant community interest ? and opposition. Public hearings before the planning commission and city council brought full houses to council chambers along with petitions against the proposal. Those opposing the development have cited the change in zoning as going against the current zoning in the neighborhood, as well as concerns with increased traffic and negative effects on property values on homes in the area.

Nester said the city's approval was on the condition that the county also approve a rezoning. If the county does not approve the developer's request, the city portion reverts to its original zoning.

The city would provide water and sewer service to the development.

The lowdown on Lowe's

A proposal to locate a Lowe's at the corner of Shiloh Church Road and U. S. 460 is a simpler matter. Located in the city and county's joint revenue sharing area, the zoning of the 20 acre lot makes the big box retail outlet a use by right. Its approval is an administrative process and does not require planning commission or board of supervisors action.

Mark Jordan, the planner handling the project, said that the county's department of natural resources is reviewing Lowe's plan for sediment control, during construction, and storm water management. The department must sign off on this part of the plan before Lowe's can start grading.

Jordan said that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is also reviewing the plan. VDOT has to approve the store's commercial entrance. Lowe's also has to build turn lanes and a cross access on U. S. 460 and VDOT checks to see if the plans meet the required design standard. There will also be a traffic light there.

Jordan anticipates a groundbreaking in March or April. He expects the store to be completed in August or September.