Citing concerns with changing neighborhood characteristics and diminishing residential properties in the Boonsboro area, the Lynchburg Planning Commission voted to deny approval to rezone the property for the use of a bank, stating it could set a precedent that could affect the entire corridor.

FNB Property Corp., also known as First National Bank, had submitted a request to the city to amend the Future Land Use Map from Low-Density Residential to Neighborhood Commercial and rezone property at 5010 Boonsboro Road from R-1, Low-Density Residential to B-1C, Limited Business District Conditional to allow the construction of a 4,500-square-foot bank building with a drive-thru and associated parking.

According to city documents, the Lynchburg Comprehensive Plan 2013-2030 recommends Low-Density Residential for the property.

The city’s planning division had also recommended denial of the project stating in documents that although the proposed use would be in close proximity to other commercial uses, the zoning for these uses has been in place since 1978.

“With the exception of rezoning 4835 Boonsboro Road in 1987, the Planning Commission and Council have consistently followed the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan in the Boonsboro Road area,” documents state. “The City’s Comprehensive Plan places a high value on the City’s residential neighborhoods. While the Royal Oak Subdivision to the west of the proposed development could serve as a natural break of commercial development, this large lot low density zoned property could also serve to ease the transition to residential from commercial.”

The property, which consists of a one-story house, sits on 5.3 acres and is about a half-mile from James River Day School.

Doyle Allen with engineering firm Hurt & Proffitt represents the local bank, which has locations all over Central Virginia. Allen said the property is zoned incorrectly since much of the property is surrounded by businesses.

Across the street is a Bank of the James branch, which Commissioner Nancy Marion felt was odd since the use was allowed on one side of the street but not the other.

She added she was torn by the request because the bank would be a good transitional use and she thought it would not negatively affect property owners but said the city has a plan for commercial uses and the property requested is not one of them.

“I would err on the side of the plan,” she said.

During public comments, Billy Flint, owner of Flint Property Group and listing agent for the property, said even if he didn’t have a dog in the fight, he wouldn’t be in opposition to the project.

“Banks are good neighbors,” he said.

He said the bank is willing to leave the majority of the property undisturbed except for a little over an acre near Boonsboro Road where the bank would be built.

Ellwyn Andrusky owns property on Royal Oak Circle directly next to where the proposed bank would be built and said she would be most negatively impacted.

“It’s a very serious matter to me,” she said.

She asked the property remain R-1 and that the bank be built elsewhere. She added she feared her property value would decrease if the bank were built on the proposed site.

Rick Klein, a Boonsboro resident for 40 years, said the area is beautiful and unique, and he feels proud when people come to visit.

“Boonsboro has stayed the way it is because there is a plan,” he said. “When you start spot zoning you can’t get it back.”

Lynchburg City Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the request at its meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 14, 2020.

In other news: Lynchburg Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a request from developer Tony West to rezone a former auto garage at the corner of 401 Rivermont Ave. to develop 14 apartments and 405 Rivermont Ave. to develop three apartment units. He also plans to use 1151 D St., which is located behind 405 Rivermont Ave., as a paved parking area.

Rachael Smith covers local businesses and nonprofits. Reach her at (434) 385-5482.

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