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Residents express hopes for development
SoVaNow.com / August 06, 2014Members of the Clarksville Planning Commission held what they promised was the first of many public input sessions Aug. 4 as they begin the process of updating Clarksville’s Comprehensive Plan.
At the Monday night meeting, members Carol Kiser, Jeff Jones, Todd Jones, and Dick Burnett, and chairman Stephan Herman heard from local residents Rita Powell, Virginia Fenty and her son Troy Bowers. Powell wondered whether the new comprehensive plan would call for an expansion of the local airport. She also said she was concerned about the quality of the water in the lake and hoped that future plans would include provisions to address the remediation of disasters, like the coal ash spill that occurred on the Dan River in February of this year.
Herman assured her that local water quality and environmental impact issues would be considered as part of the update process.
Powell also expressed a desire to see the town gain an additional supermarket, and recreational activities like a bowling alley or movie theater.
Virginia Fenty, who lives on Seventh Street near the corner of Commerce Street, renewed her complaint about the underbrush that the US Army Corps has allowed to grow up on land Fenty said was sold to the Corps by her husband. At the time of the transfer, it was free of scrub and underbrush and people living near her on Seventh and Commerce Streets had a view of the lake. Today the area is overgrown, lacks a water view and has become home to bears and bobcats, Fenty told commission members.
During prior visits to Clarksville Town Council, Fenty has been told that the property is controlled by the Army Corps, and that Council is powerless to make changes to it. She has been encouraged to contact the Corps or assemble a citizens group to clean the underbrush, but leave the trees intact.
The Corps is currently undergoing its own review of the shoreline management plan. One thing they are looking at, according to Operations Project Manager Michael Womack, is the use and restrictions on lands abutting the lake. He makes no promise that the Corps will change its current stand against clearing properties, which he said was adopted about 10 to 15 years ago, part of a plan to give lake users a more natural view. The USACE wants to protect Buggs Island Lake from the views of homes and development seen around Smith Mountain Lake and Lake Gaston.
Troy Bowers asked commission members to give greater consideration to economic development plans. Bowers, who grew up in the area, said he and the rest of his siblings had to move away to find jobs. “As people work all other things will come including restaurants, parks, cleaning of the water,” Bowers said.
Several citizens shared their views on the need for a waterfront restaurant, the completion of the Cove Project, and a hangout for teens and younger children. These ideas shared with the commission members, each of whom took notes during the public comment session.
Before ending the public session, town manager Jeff Jones discussed items that were in the old comp plan and would most likely become part of the updated plan. The need for town access to the lake is very important and Clarksville is working with the state on this issue. The Cove Project — a plan to increase the town’s visual and physical site of the lake, a pier boat slips and a gazebo — “is not dead.” Jones explained, adding that the delay in completing the project “is just a funding issue.”
Jones acknowledged that he, county tourism coordinator Justin Kearns and several state officials recognize the importance of tourism to the town’s future economic growth and that a water presence like the Cove Project would be a draw for tourists. In response to Bower’s comments, Jones noted that the property which once housed Burlington Industries is being actively marketed as an industrial site by state and local officials in hopes of bringing industry back to Clarksville.
Herman reminded local citizens that there would be other chances for them to share their vision for Clarksville while the commission works to update the comprehensive plan. Those who cannot make a meet are encouraged to send their comments in writing to the Planning Commission care of Jeff Jones, Clarksville Town Manager, P.O. Box 1147, Clarksville, VA 23927.
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