Friday, November 27, 2015

Proposed Rezoning Q&A Part II

For the next few weeks, the Town of Abingdon will be publishing several posts regarding the concerns of the proposed rezoning of the CEMA Corporation property. The staff has received several questions and wants to provide information by disseminating informational bulletins.

The second set of questions addresses safety issues related to traffic on Green Spring Road, safety issues for the Virginia Creeper Trail, the proposed sports complex, and the role that VDOT will play in the proposed development:

1.      How does the town plan to address safety issues relative to vehicle traffic coming in and out of the proposed development should the re-zoning be approved?  How will the Cook Street extension and the road into the proposed development improve safety on Cummings Street?

The Traffic Impact Analysis for the proposed development on CEMA Corporation property is being finalized and reviewed by VDOT and the Town of Abingdon. Since January 2000, there have been forty-eight (48) crashes within the 400 block of Green Spring Road which causes a safety concerns. This area includes the S-curve, which is the site of the majority of the crashes.

Of the forty-eight (48) crashes:

       42 crashes involved a single vehicle, and 6 involved two vehicles
       30 of the crashes were in/at the S-curve, 11 were in front of the property at 410 Green Spring Road, and 7 occurred between the properties located at 430 – 492 Green Spring Road
       26 crashes occurred while the drivers were northbound, 22 occurred involving southbound traffic
       27 were on wet pavement, while 21 were under dry conditions
       36 occurred during dawn/daylight hours, while 12 occurred under dusk/dark conditions
       41 involved NO alcohol use by the drivers, 7 were alcohol related

If the re-zoning is approved, the Town will address safety issues relative to vehicle traffic entering and exiting the proposed development. The town will require the realignment of Green Spring Road to be in place before any businesses open. Realigning Green Spring Road, from its current intersection with Cummings Street to the Cummings/Cook signalized intersection will be a major improvement. Currently, the Green Spring/Cummings Street intersection is controlled by a stop sign. This intersection is prone to angle collisions as drivers enter Cummings Street, from Green Spring Road, attempting to beat on-coming traffic as it approaches the intersection. This is a considerable challenge given the traffic volume on Cummings Street. The site distance, due to the angle of the intersection, and the uphill grade on Green Spring Road, also presents a challenge for motorists attempting to enter Cummings Street. 

The realignment of Green Spring Road with Cook Street will force traffic to one intersection, providing motorists with a safer controlled entry on to Cummings Street. Additionally, the realignment will reduce the number of intersections with Cummings Street, thus lessening the chance of crashes related to left hand turns and creating a more efficient flow of traffic.

Since January 2000, there have been fifty-three (53) crashes at the intersection of Green Spring Road and Cumming Street.

Of the fifty-three (53) crashes:

       37 (69.8 %) involved vehicles making left turns at the intersection; either from Green Spring Road on to Cummings Street, or from Cummings Street on to Green Spring Road.
o   25 (67.6 %) of the crashes were caused by vehicles making left turns from Green Spring Road.
o   12 crashes were the result of vehicles making left turns from Cumming Street on to Green Spring Road.
       16 (30.2 %) were either rear-end or side-swipe collisions.
The data shows that driver actions during left turns are the greatest contributor to crashes. These crashes will be significantly reduced by funneling traffic to the signalized intersection at Cummings and Cook Street.

2.      How is this development going to impact Washington Crossings Shopping Center from a safety standpoint?

The existing entrance to Cummings Street from Washington Crossings Shopping Center is uncontrolled.  It appears that Washington Crossings would benefit from the development because of the required realignment of Green Spring Road.  By creating a new access road from the Washington Crossings Shopping Center to Green Spring Road, traffic will have a direct entry and meet at a controlled intersection.

An analysis of crash data from the intersection of Cummings Street and the Washington Crossing Shopping Center entry revealed similar traffic concerns to the intersection of Green Spring Road and Cummings Street. Since January 2000, there have been twenty-five (25) crashes at this location.

Of the twenty-five (25) crashes:

       19 (76 %) involved vehicles making left turns at the intersection; either from Washington Crossing on to Cummings Street, or from Cummings Street in to Washington Crossings Shopping Center.
o   15 (79 %) of the crashes were caused by vehicles making left turns from Washington Crossings Shopping Center on to Cummings Street.
o   4 (21 %) crashes were the result of vehicles making left turns from Cumming Street in to Washington Crossings Shopping Center. 
       6 (24 %) were either rear-end or side-swipe collisions.
Again, the best solution to the issue of left turn crashes is to move the traffic to a controlled intersection; thus allowing left turns to be managed by a traffic signal.

3.      How will this development impact the Creeper Trail from a safety standpoint?

From a vehicular standpoint, it is anticipated that the development would increase traffic on Green Spring Road. This could create safety concerns for the pedestrian crosswalk located between the Creeper Trail parking lot and Trestle #1. However, with a relatively low speed limit, and good visibility from both approaches, the crosswalk is more than adequate to provide safe access to the trail.
From a law enforcement perspective, the Creeper Trail is relatively crime free.  When crime occurs in relation to the trail, it is usually at the designated parking areas. The tables below depict crimes that have occurred in relation to the parking areas since 2003.  Data indicates that crime is more likely to take place in the most secluded parking area, Watauga Road, as opposed to the parking areas within the territorial limits of Abingdon.  
Kings Mountain Parking Area
Date
Theft from
Vehicle
Property
Damage
Hit and
Run
Public
Intoxication
2003


1

2005
1
1

1
2011
1



Total
2
1
1
1
Green Spring Parking Area

Date
Theft from
Vehicle
Property
Damage

2010
3


2014

1

Total
3
1

Watauga Parking Area
Date
Theft from
Vehicle
Drug
Violation
Property
Damage
2007
4


2008
1


2009
2
1

2010
3

1
2011
2

1
2015
2


Total
14
1
2

4.      The concept plan for the proposed development currently shows a sports complex.  Why is this property the best alternative for the sports complex and is the facility adequate enough to meet the needs of town residents?  

   In 2006, the Town Council appointed a three (3) member team, with knowledge and expertise in local sports, to review properties inside and outside of the town limits as potential sites for a multi-use sports facility.

   The review team rated the properties based on criteria including, adequate amount of acreage, slope of the land, access to water for irrigation, accessibility, and site preparation relative to rock and dirt removal.

   The team reported to Council that they had reviewed numerous sites and the property currently owned by CEMA Corporation, and the subject of rezoning, was the most desirable site as it most closely met the criteria for a multi-use sports facility.

   Prior to the current proposed development, the Town Manager had been in negotiations with CEMA Corporation to purchase the entire 70 acre tract for use as both a sports complex and for a multi-use development that would generate enough revenue to pay for the build out of the sports complex.

   The Council has affirmed their commitment to see the development of a sports facility in the town through its capital improvement plan and comprehensive plan for over seven (7) years. Both of those plans can be accessed on the town's website at www.abingdon-va.gov or through the following links: http://bit.ly/1YumXZu and http://bit.ly/1kTBcsI

   The 70 +/- acres owned by the CEMA Corporation, less the 33.189 acres that is subject to re-zoning, is the most suitable site because of its proximity to I-81, the demonstrated suitability of the land for a sports facility, the opportunity to develop a public/private partnership that will work together to develop a site that will improve road accessibility and safety, provide revenue for the town through collection of local taxes i.e. meals and lodging; but most importantly it is a solid opportunity to provide a multi-use sports facility that will meet a long standing for the youth of the community. Further, the Town possesses power, once it secures the 43.27 acres for the Sports Complex, to control the use of this land in perpetuity by possibly granting a conservation easement on the property that would limit all future development.  The Town has done this elsewhere, for the perpetual preservation of property, most notably on the Historic Muster Grounds property that it previously purchased.

5.      What role does the Virginia Department of Transportation play in this proposed development?

The Virginia Department of Transportation will provide the following for the proposed development:

       Guidance on state and federal funding for a project of this type 
       Review and approval/disapproval of Revenue Sharing Program fund application
       Conduct their SERP (State Environmental Review Process) for the project
       Review engineering plans and specifications at different stages of design
       When deemed appropriate and all Local Administered Project requirements have been met, authorize the Town to advertise the project for bid
       Perform occasional inspections as deemed appropriate during construction (in addition to Town's full-time inspection)
       Review requests for reimbursement under the Revenue Sharing program


Please feel free to contact the Town Hall at 276-628-3167 if you have more questions and ask to speak with the Town Manager’s Office or the Office of Planning. 




22 comments:

  1. I believe that the Town of Abingdon should be supporting small business growth and development, in order to create a more vibrant and diverse local economy that directly benefits local residents. While Food City falls into this category, I'm concerned that the other businesses and restaurants planned for this development do not. I'm wondering if any consideration is being given to other locally owned businesses in this development. I'm also wondering what, if any, business will go into the current Food City building. I don't believe that large, vacant buildings are good for Abingdon.bi would appreciate any insight into these two questions. I also hope that any potential developments will respect and perpetuate Abingdon's uniqueness, historical sites, and small town/rural character. This, after all, is what makes Abingdon appealing to both tourists and local citizens alike.

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  2. No citizen of abingdon actually wants this to pass. But of course it will because we owe our soul to food city. It is amazing what money can do for you

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    1. I am a citizen of Abingdon and I want it to pass.

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    2. I am a citizen of Abingdon and I do NOT want this to pass!!!

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  3. You'll destroy beautiful property to build a new shopping center, and effectively empty out and abandon two existing shopping centers that will become eyesores. Great foresight and planning.

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  4. You'll destroy beautiful property to build a new shopping center, and effectively empty out and abandon two existing shopping centers that will become eyesores. Great foresight and planning.

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  6. This is a new approach. 35 posts have been removed and placed in the old post section. That way fewer people will see others comments.

    The Virginia Creeper Trail is a sacred place to walk. Traffic will pile up blocking residents who live around Exit 17. The entire project could be done at the Town Center. The tax dollars were to build a bypass to reduce traffic not encourage more traffic. So there will be no bypass for the residents of Abingdon that was known as French Moore Blvd

    The project will cost about $8 Million in our tax dollars. Green Spring residents will be forced to move or overwhelmed by the project.

    I think this project calls for a major traffic, environmental study, archaeological and historical study. The Trail of Tears for African Americans occurred near or on The Meadows Farm.

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    1. Where can one find the 35 posts that have been moved?

      Why is The Virginia Creeper trail sacred?? A train ran on it for many years, there are many more places in our area that once had trains.

      There is no record of The Trail of Tears for African Americans even being near The Meadows Farm. These marches started up in north eastern VA and came through Abingdon on what we now know as Route 11. They would not have stopped in Abingdon. One record says, "they were camped about 6 miles below Abingdon", I don't believe that could have been The Meadows Farm.

      Tell me more about this French Moore Blvd, drive down there and look. They can extend it about 300 feet and tie into Stone Mill Road, then they could turn north and tie it into Lowry Drive, wouldn't that be nice?? I guess they could turn south and come out at White's Corner. To tell the truth to complete French Moore Blvd where it would be any benefit you are talking big, big money.

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  7. All of the Town's posts have stated that studies will be done once the rezoning is approved. Seems like putting the horse before the cart. Public hearings would bring up many questions and concerns related to the project. What if the studies find out that this project has more negatives than the Town is willing to tackle. Will they unrezone it? Will the other developers who bought real estate next to the trail in anticipation of the rezoning passage want their money back if it doesn't pass like the Council promised them?

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  8. Re: French Moore, Jr. Blvd. Yes, let's educate ourselves. That new route was approved by VDOT in Aug 2001 and is on the Abingdon 2020 Transportation plan approved by US Dept of Transportation, the Federal Hwy Admin and Abingdon. It goes from Cummings St. to Hwy 19 and would reduce congestion/traffic through town. On April 6, 2015, the Town Council bumped it down and made the Green Spring Road Realignment Project the "highest priority" {sic}, as per Mayor Morgan. So is Green Spring Rd. so dangerous? In 15 years, the average # of wrecks in the 400 block, is 3.2/year with no fatalities. Could an "S-curve" sign, a speedbump and a flashing light or two be a cheaper fix? At the Cummings/Green Spring intersection there have been an avg of 3.53 wrecks/year in 15 years. How about no left turn from GS onto Cummings and no left turn from Cummings onto GS? Let's try that before spending $7.97 million for a road that destroys a beautiful hill...oh but that road would go right to the aggrandized Food City...how handy. There was no mention of that new development in the April 2015 Town Council meeting.

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  9. I was just reading some of the older posts. So many of you have been "drinking the Kool-Aid"!!! It seems that many of you think that because one multi-multi millionaire has done good things for Abingdon, that he deserves to do anything he wants, anywhere. The Town Council is supposed to be the steward of our wonderful town not the agent of selfish rich men! Let them choose another spot for a mega-store. Is it appropriate to have the same size store in Abingdon as Johnson City? NO! Look at the whole picture. So much destruction and risk for a new STRIP MALL?! Young people are saying that is an outmoded way of shopping!! Look to the future! Preserve our beauty! We appreciate jobs and business and philanthropy BUT there is a limit!
    Sadly, I heard a man say, "When is Abingdon going to be renamed, 'Smithville'?"
    Abingdon has existed; the Barter Theater has existed a LONG TIME before Mr. Smith graced us with his presence here.

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    1. French Moore Blvd is nowhere near Cummings Street, it is way down on the west end of Abingdon. It is not even near U.S. 19, besides there is no problem getting from that area to U. S. 19, there is a four lane highway all the way. I can't in my wildest dreams ever think that what we now have as French Moore Blvd was ever intended to connect to Cummings St or U. S. 19.

      I can't believe some of the statements made about Mr. Smith, why would you get it in your head that he was pushing for some sort of secret deal? In my life time this is the way the ball bounces, businesses that succeed grow larger. I don't remember all this name calling when Alpha wanted and built a larger office building.

      Whoever the man was that asked about Abingdon being renamed Smithville is ignorant. Abingdon will make more money from the new Food City than they will from the Creeper Trail. I just don't understand why you people can't understand that not one square inch of the Creeper Trail will be disturbed, as a matter of fact, I believe it will improve the access to The Creeper Trail.

      I don't understand why you mentioned the Barter Theater, what does it have to do with this rezoning?

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    2. You just said it. "Abingdon will make more money........" So will Steve Smith. It's all about money. Too bad none of our hard working underpaid teachers will see any benefit from all that new money. Maybe if a new grocery store opened in the County then the County would have more money for our teachers and our aging schools.

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    3. I guess you don't realize that the people and businesses that are in the Town of Abingdon get to pay taxes to the county and to the town. The tax rate that the county charges is the same amount they charge everyone else. So the county will get taxes from the sales tax and the property tax also. This is a win-win situation, we get a bigger, nicer store, hopefully in the near future our kids will have a sports complex.

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    4. yes they do and the county taxes are higher than the town taxes go figure

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    5. Well, the county supports the school system, we don't get any benefit from the town.

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    6. the schools in the town get benefits from the town and is it fair for the ones that live in town to have to pay county taxes and the ones in the county doesn't have to pay town taxes just wandering

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    7. "the schools in the town get benefits from the town and is it fair for the ones that live in town to have to pay county taxes and the ones in the county doesn't have to pay town taxes just wandering"
      I don't know of any benefits the schools in town get from the Town of Abingdon. The Town of Abingdon had their own school system years ago, but I don't know of anything they do for the schools now.

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  10. Dear Unknown,
    You might want to ask the Town or VDOT for a copy of the ABINGDON 2020 Transportation plan prepared by VDOT Transportation Planning Division in 2001. The road U2 on the map IS the extension of French Moore, Jr. Blvd from Cummings St to Jonesboro Rd. Then R4D connects from Hwy 11 to Hwy 19. FMJB has been the top priority for the Town until April 6, 2015. The new Green Spring Road Realignment Project would conveniently build a road to a private development-paid for with YOUR tax dollars.

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  11. I sincerely wonder if the Town Council and Town employees are required to take an equivalent of "Risk Management in Municipalities - 101". Certainly a semester of this class cannot be taught in this limited space. They would learn about types of risk, risk tolerance and reputational repercussions of poor risk analysis. The main counter to risk is GOOD GOVERNANCE which includes accountability and transparency. This may be accomplished with an open question and answer session involving the public and the Town Council, Planning Commission, Town Manager and Town Attorney. Of course, sound financial policies are key. The Town has had problems with this as evidenced by the incarceration of the previous Asst. Town Manager. If there was a risk analysis before engaging in this business of The Meadows, the results were either terribly flawed or ignored. The Town citizens are overwhelmingly against this development in its proposed location. Many business owners have expressed outright fear in going public with their opinions. I have been told that "they" can make it hard on you to do business if you go against "them". What a sad state of affairs in this lovely town.

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  12. I don't understand all of this others have also talked to them at VDOT several years ago and were told that the changing of greenspring road was planned then to come out at the red light on cumming street instead of the stop sign also the road from majac mart was also suppose to come out at the red light so the only thing is changing according to that is they are going to build a new food city and shopping centers and ball fields to me that's not a bad thingmaybe some just don't like change I don't know

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