Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Planners vote for rezoning of Friendship site on Starkey Road
Friendship Retirement Community plans to build a 120-bed short-term care facility at the site.
The Roanoke County Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday night to recommend that the county's board of supervisors approve the rezoning of a parcel of about 10 acres off Starkey Road and a related special use permit that would allow the Friendship Retirement Community of Roanoke to build and operate a 120-bed, short-term care facility at the site.
The five-member planning commission's vote to recommend rezoning the land from low-density residential to general commercial followed a public hearing and prolonged discussion about how best to buffer the development from adjacent residences.
Warren Coburn will be a neighbor to the development if it goes forward. He expressed concerns during the hearing about the potential impact of the facility. He said staff and visitors traveling to and from the site will affect traffic on Starkey Road. And he said the planning commission should insist that Friendship provide extensive buffering.
"The value of my property is just going to hit bottom," Coburn said.
Friendship Retirement Community officials, including President and CEO Russ Barksdale, have said the facility's primary focus will be meeting the short-term needs of patients recovering from orthopedic surgeries, strokes, heart disease and other medical conditions. As proposed, four one-story buildings at the site would house 120 beds in private rooms.
Richard Sayers, an attorney for Friendship, said Monday night that his client will likely invest $18 million to $20 million in the facility. Barksdale has said Friendship has a contract to buy the land for $1.85 million, pending various county and state approvals needed to proceed.
Friendship's current facilities off Hershberger Road in Roanoke are licensed for 373 beds. Barksdale said the 120 beds proposed for the Starkey Road site would be relocated from Hershberger Road. The company has applied to the Virginia Department of Health to relocate the beds.
Barksdale said Friendship wants to provide rehabilitation services closer to home for people who live in surrounding areas of Roanoke County.
Roi Mitchell, another Starkey Road resident who lives near the parcel that would be developed, also expressed concerns about buffering.
Ultimately, the planning commission recommended that Friendship provide a buffer of at least 30 feet on all sides except the portion that fronts Starkey Road. The 30-foot buffer would require a solid, six-foot fence of either wood or a composite material. A 40-foot buffer would not require a fence.
During the hearing, developer Steve Strauss told the commission that he has considered buying the land in years past with the idea of building single-family homes there. He said he has estimated that the property could support at least 40 single-family homes, an outcome he said would create more traffic on Starkey Road than the short-term facility and require more county services.
Strauss said he supported rezoning the parcel to allow the Friendship development to move forward.
Tara Pattisall, a county planning official, said the board of supervisors will hold a public hearing Jan. 22 related to the proposed project and make the final determination about the necessary rezoning and special use permit.