A plan to build a new housing development in Lynchburg was put on hold Tuesday after city council delayed a vote on a rezoning request that would allow for the construction of 40 townhomes off Laxton Road.
City council voted 5-0 during its meeting Tuesday to wait until its June 25 meeting to vote on a request to amend the city’s Future Land Use Map and rezone about six acres from Low Density Residential to Medium Density Residential.
City council members Treney Tweedy, MaryJane Dolan, Jeff Helgeson, Randy Nelson and Beau Wright voted to table the vote until the June 25 meeting; councilmen Turner Perrow and Sterling Wilder were unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
The property, which is located at 1306 Laxton Road, encompasses about seven acres; about six acres are in Lynchburg and another acre is in Campbell County. The property currently contains one residential structure, which would be demolished during the construction.
City Planner Tom Martin said the city’s Future Land Use Map identifies the property as low density and neighboring properties mostly are single- family homes. Martin said city zoning ordinances allow townhouse developments in medium density residential districts with a conditional use permit, which Oakton-based Troutspring Development is requesting from the city.
The planning commission during its Nov. 14 meeting voted 4-3 to recommend denial of the requests. City council voted 6-1 to postpone a decision after a December public hearing, citing concerns about increased traffic in the area and limited access to the development from Laxton Road.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Josh Lee of Troutspring Development said he revised the plan for the development, reducing the number of units from 50 to 40 and adding an additional access point on Enterprise Drive.
“We understand the concerns of the residents in these neighborhoods and we revised our original plan to address those concerns,” Lee said. “We just want a responsible development that will be an asset to the city.”
Lee said he had “some great conversations” with neighboring property owners about the proposed development since the December meeting. One of the residents, Pat Morris, spoke in favor of the development during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’ve lived on the adjacent property for 23 years and I was concerned about what was going there,” Morris said. “But now I’m pretty excited about what is going there. I think it will be a nice addition to the community.
“The older I get the more resistant to change I become,” Morris said. “However, I realize that sometimes change can bring about some good things, so I am speaking in favor of this development tonight.”
However, other residents voiced concerns. Thomas Day, who owns a home in the nearby Wyndhurst neighborhood, said a higher-density development potentially would create traffic problems for residents and vehicles coming in and out of nearby Brookville High School, even with an additional access point on Enterprise Drive.
“This is a high-density traffic area,” Day said. “If you put 40 townhomes there with about two cars each, that is an additional 80 cars traveling through there. I see the traffic snowballing if that many vehicles are allowed.”
Davis Mann was concerned with the proposed development changing the character of surrounding properties.
“I just want to point out that the city spends a lot of time and effort developing the Future Land Use Map,” Mann said. “This change would go against all the planning and foresight the city put into this. I implore you to keep this property zoned the way it was planned and look at what is around it.”
“This area is single family,” Helgeson said. The property owners bought their homes in an area that is single family. We are being asked to change this. I appreciate the lower density being proposed, but I’m not convinced.”
Nelson, however, supported Lee’s revised concept plan during the meeting.
“My concern about this project has been absolved,” Nelson said. “I had two issues with the original plan and those issues have been resolved.”
Dolan suggested the council postpone voting on the requests until the June 25 meeting, when Perrow and Wilder could be in attendance.
“I feel they should have the opportunity to take part in this discussion,” Dolan said. “Their voices should be heard on this.”
The city council is scheduled to meet next at 7:30 p.m. on June 25 at Lynchburg City Hall, 900 Church St.