Thursday, December 31, 2015

Abingdon Town Council Meeting Agenda 1-4-15

The Town of Abingdon will hold it's regular Work Session meeting on Monday, January 4, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. in the Arthur Campbell room of the Municipal Building.
Following that meeting, the regular Town Council Meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Chambers of the Municipal building.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Development of Town of Abingdon Sports Complex

On December 28, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. the Abingdon Town Council will hold a public hearing to consider the purchase of approximately 40 + acres of land from CEMA Corporation.  Members of the Town Council are pleased to announce that the purchase of this property is being made possible through a gift from K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., parent company for Food City.  K-VA-T’s President/CEO, Steve Smith provided the town with a letter of intent which sets forth his objective to donate $2,289,750 to use in the purchase from CEMA Corporation 40 + acres of land, for the development of a sports complex. It is the desire of the Town Council that the existing dwelling, commonly referred to as The Meadows, be preserved and incorporated into the ultimate build out of the sports facility. This project is a shining example of how public/private partnerships can benefit a community in ways that will provide much needed road safety improvements, increased revenues, further historic preservation, and promote health through youth sports and recreation.  

Town Manager Greg Kelly has been working to acquire the appropriate land to develop a sports complex since he became the Town Manager over nine years ago.  The need for such a facility has existed and been considered for several years prior to his tenure.  While he undertook discussions with CEMA Corporation a few years ago about the acquisition of the Meadows, it was not until March 2015 that Marathon Realty, a subsidiary of K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. approached the town with a desire to assist in its efforts to acquire the property.  Several months of negotiations between CEMA and Marathon Realty followed, until they could reach an accord relative to the land transaction. Once Marathon acquired the option on the property, the Town Manager initiated negotiations for a public/private partnership with Marathon.

This public/private partnership will result in four major accomplishments for the Town.  First, the Town will be able to realign Green Spring Road and Cook Street which will improve traffic conditions.  Second, it will allow for a commercial development that will generate the necessary revenues to make the realignment possible and generate significant revenues for years to come.  Third, it will provide the necessary land, in a prime recreational location, to develop a much needed multi-use sports complex for the community’s youth.  Finally, it will give the Town control over the historic Meadows home, allowing the Town to find a suitable use.

“This is an excellent example how you can preserve and honor the past while progressively planning, and moving in to the future,” said Town Manager Greg Kelly.  “The Town should celebrate this public/private partnership.”

The Town Planning Commission process will ensure that both developments are aesthetically appealing and blend with the historic and recreational charm of the Town. The Town’s expenditures will be placed into the road realignment, road access and infrastructure to the Town’s 40 + acres, the build out of the sports complex, and the preservation of the Meadow’s home. 

With respect to the commercial development component of the partnership, the developer commissioned an archaeological study that revealed nothing of historic or archaeological significance on the commercial site and confirmed that there are no burial sites on the property.  The archaeological study’s map and conclusions/recommendations can be found on the Town’s blog at

If the Town accepts the gift and acquires the property, it will hire a consultant to develop a conceptual plan for the sports complex and the preservation of the home.  A major part of this process will afford the public the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions in public design forums.  Site plans for both the commercial development and the sports complex will go through the review and approval processes of the Abingdon Planning Commission. 

The Town Manager, the Town staff and the Town Council are very excited to see this public/private partnership come together.  It demonstrates how local government and local businesses can work together for the greater good of the community to improve the infrastructure and the quality of life.


Historic and Archaeological Resources Survey for The Meadows

Temporary Sign Ordinance

The Town of Abingdon staff has received several inquiries regarding temporary signs placed in citizen’s yards as well as those placed within the public right of way. The Town adopted a sign ordinance regarding temporary signs in June 2007, which is accessible with the full Code of Ordinances for the Town of Abingdon at the following link:

Article 21 - Signs

Section 21-9. - Temporary signs.
(a)        Temporary signs are permitted provided they meet the standards of this section. The area of any temporary sign maintained per this section shall not count for the allowable permanent sign area for any lot or structure.
(b)        A "temporary sign" is a sign that is not permanently mounted to a building or into the ground. Signs attached by rope, string, chain, tape, paste, and similar mechanisms; signs not rigidly attached to a supporting structure; signs made of paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar materials; and signs that are pushed, hammered or similarly put into the ground are considered temporary signs.
            Examples of temporary signs include, but are not limited to, garage or yard sale signs, political campaign signs, real estate signs, construction signs, menu/daily special signs.
(c)        Each temporary sign shall be maintained in good, safe condition, securely affixed to a building or the ground.
(d)       Temporary sign area per lot shall not exceed 32 square feet.
(e)        Any temporary sign pertaining to an event must be removed within ten days after the event. For example, garage or yard sale signs, political campaign signs, and real estate signs are subject to this provision. For all other temporary signs, a maximum posting period of 14 consecutive calendar days is permitted, up to five times per calendar year. Such signs shall not be attached in any way to utility poles, meter posts, or trees within any public street right-of-way. No person shall put up any notice upon any building, wall, fence or other property of another person without having first obtained the consent of the owner of such property.
(f)        A temporary sign shall not be illuminated.
(g)        Pennants and streamers, without advertising, may be displayed simultaneously with temporary grand opening signs, but at no other time.
(1)        Each sign is 32 square feet or less in area;
(2)        Each sign is on-premises and attached to the structure or a permanent sign;
(3)        Such signs are displayed no more than 14 consecutive days.

(Ord. of 6-4-07(2))

Section 21-8. - Prohibited signs.
21-8-1. The following signs are prohibited within the town unless otherwise stated in this article:

a.         Any sign affixed to, hung, placed or painted on any other sign, fence, cliff, tree, public utility pole, radio or television or similar tower provided that this prohibition shall not affect official traffic, parking or informational signs placed on utility poles by the town government.
b.         Any sign or banner within or across a public right-of-way, unless specifically approved by the town manager, or his designee.
c.         Any sign attached to, rather than painted on, an awning which is not a marquee.
d.         Any flashing or moving sign, except those officially erected for safety purposes.
e.         Any sign which advertises any, business, product or service which is not conducted, produced or sold as a primary product under license on the premises where the sign is located. Signs relating to the activities of the previous occupant may remain in place for not more than 60 days from the date of vacancy. When a business is vacated, the sign for such terminated business shall be removed within 60 days.
f.          Any sign which the town manager determines to imitate an official traffic sign or signal or conflict with traffic safety needs due to its location, coloring, movement, shape or illumination.
g.         Reserved.
h.         Portable signs.
i.          Any sign, except an official public notice, which is nailed, tacked, posted, or in any other manner attached to any utility pole, or structure supporting wire, cable, or pipe; or to public property of any description.
j.          Signs advertising activities or products that are illegal under federal, state, town, or county law.
k.         Any electrical sign that does not display the UL, ETL, CSA, or ULC label.
l.          Any sign that due to its size, illumination, location or height obstructs the vision of motorists or pedestrians at any intersection, or similarly obstructs the vision of motorists entering a public right-of-way from private property.
m.        A sign which obstructs any window or door opening used as a means of egress, or which prevents free passage from one part of a roof to any other part thereof, and a sign which interferes with an opening required for ventilation.
n.         A sign in a public right of way except as provided in section 21-11 of this article. Any sign existing or having been allowed in a public right-of-way may be ordered removed by the administrator upon 30 days' notice if the use of that right of way is changed to require the signs' removal, or if the public right of way is to be used for any public purposes inconsistent with the existence of the sign.
o.         A sign or illumination that causes any glare into or upon any building or land other than the building and land to which the sign is accessory or due to illumination presents a hazard to pedestrian and/or vehicular traffic on any public and/or private right-of-way.
p.         A sign that violates any provision of any federal or state law relative to outdoor advertising.
q.         Signs with moving components.
r.          Pennants, streamers, except as provided in section 21-9(g).
s.          Large floating or stationary balloons.
t.          Signs attached, painted, or mounted to unlicensed and inoperative or generally stationary vehicles.
u.         Any sign representing or depicting specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas or sexually oriented goods. Any sign containing obscene text or pictures as defined by the Virginia Code.
v.         Off-premises signs. No off-premises signs are permitted in the Town of Abingdon, except location signs which may be located off-premises.
w.        Billboards, except those existing at the adoption of this ordinance (June 4, 2007). Repair of existing billboards is allowed, however, replacement is not.
x.         Signs placed in the right-of-way of any street.

The sign regulations are intended to define, permit, and control the use of signs which are legible from the public right-of-way. Town Council has adopted these regulations in order to achieve community goals and objectives, which include but are not limited to:

  • ·         Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
  • ·         Equitably distributing the privilege of using the public environs to communicate private information.
  • ·         Safeguarding the public use and nature of the streets and sidewalks.

For more information or questions about the sign ordinance, please contact Town Hall at 276-628-3167 and ask to speak with Code Compliance. 

 Examples of Temporary Signs

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Notice of Special Called Meeting on 12-28-15

The Town Council of Abingdon has received several inquiries regarding the Special Called Meeting on December 28, 2015.

            On December 28, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. the Town Council will hold a public hearing to consider the purchase of 40.74 acres of land by the Town of Abingdon from CEMA Corporation.  The proposed property is being considered for the placement of a sports complex.  The Mayor will declare the public hearing open and each person wishing to speak will be able to do so for 3 minutes. Comments will be limited to the proposed purchase only. There will be a sign up sheet for those who wish to comment and it will be available on the morning of the meeting starting at 7:30 a.m.   This property is currently zoned AFOS (agriculture, forestal and open space) and is not subject to rezoning if the purchase is successful. 

The meeting time has been changed to 8 a.m. for several reasons:

            - The deadline for the town to complete this purchase is December 31, 2015.

            -   The Council members and necessary Town staff are limited to dates and times because of the Christmas and New Year holidays and the individual work schedules of each member. 

            - The Town has a history of holding special called meetings in the early morning hours to allow time during the business day to complete transactions during working hours. 

The date and time of the meeting was advertised in accordance with the Code of Virginia and the Code of the Town of Abingdon (see below) so that the public could attend accordingly.  

 Special Called Meeting, Code of Virginia, § 15.2-1418:

A special meeting of the governing body shall be held when called by the chairman or mayor or requested by two or more of the members of the board of supervisors or council. The call or request shall be made to the clerk, and shall specify the matters to be considered at the meeting. Upon receipt of such call or request, the clerk of the governing body, after consultation with the chairman or mayor, shall immediately notify each member of the governing body and the attorney for the Commonwealth or the county or municipal attorney, as appropriate in writing delivered in person or to his place of residence or business or, if so requested by the member of the governing body, by electronic mail or facsimile to attend such meeting at the time and place stated in the notice. Such notice shall specify the matters to be considered at the meeting. No matter not specified in the notice shall be considered at such meeting, unless all members are present. The notice may be waived if all members of the governing body attend the special meeting or sign a waiver.

Meetings of Council - Code of the Town of Abingdon, Virginia; Chapter 1 - Incorporation, Form of Government and Boundaries; Chapter 3 - Council, Sec. 3.6 Meetings of Council

Special meetings may be called at any time by the mayor, by any three members of the council or by the town manager; provided that the members of the council are given reasonable notice of such meetings, and no business shall be transacted at a special meeting thereof except that for which it shall be called. If all members are present, this provision may be waived by a majority vote of the council. No ordinance, resolution, motion or vote shall be adopted by the council unless it shall have received the affirmative votes of a majority of the members present.

Please contact the Town Manager’s Office at 276-628-3167 if you have questions. Copies of all documents related to this proposed transaction are available for inspection in the office of the Town Manager.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Abingdon, Virginia


The Town of Abingdon will hold its regular Council Meeting on Monday, December 7th, 2015, at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, located at One Partnership Circle, Abingdon.  The meeting has been moved from the Abingdon Municipal Building to the Grand Ballroom in anticipation of a large crowd. Town Council will hear regular agenda items set for the meeting at 5:30pm; doors will open at 5:00pm. Please note that there will be no work session prior to the regular meeting. As close to 7:00 p.m. as possible, the Council will hear the matter of the Second Reading of the re-zoning request regarding CEMA Corporation which was postponed at the regular November meeting.

Those wishing to speak at the meeting must record their names and addresses on a sign-up sheet and will have three (3) minutes each to address the Council.  Persons who have signed up to speak may not donate or transfer their three (3) minutes to another individual.  Those not listed on the sign-up sheets will not have an opportunity to speak.  Signs, posters or similar materials will not be allowed in the ballroom.  

If you wish to view the agenda, and accompanying documentation, visit  Please feel free to contact the Town Hall at 276-628-3167 if you have questions and ask to speak with the Town Manager’s Office or the Office of Planning.  


Proposed Rezoning Q&A Part III

The Town of Abingdon has published several posts regarding the concerns of the proposed rezoning of the CEMA Corporation property. The staff received several questions and wanted to provide information by disseminating informational bulletins.

The final set of questions address the studies that have been conducted on the property, the issue or historic preservation, a consultants review of the proposed concept and the next steps if the rezoning is passed on December 7th

1. The proposed development requires several studies to be conducted.  Can you provide information on the traffic impact analysis, the archeological study, and the environmental impact study?

       The Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) has been completed and presented to the Virginia Department of Transportation for their review pursuant to Section 527 under VDOT guidelines.  You can click on the following link to review the letter received from VDOT on the TIA and it is
       The archaeological study is complete and is being reviewed by the state. It has not been released to the developer as of this date, but is expected within the next week.
       The Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Executive Summary is accessible by clicking on the following link

2. What are the town’s plans to address issues of historic preservation on the proposed development site?

       The town motto, “Honor Pro Antiquis, Fides Pro Furturis” means honor the past and have faith for the future.  The town was the second locality in the state of Virginia to establish a historic district in 1970.  Since that time, the town has established a Historic Preservation Review Board (formerly known as the Board of Architectural Review) to assist homeowners in the historic district maintain the standards allowed in the district relative to preservation.  The town owns several historic sites within town limits and has a documented history of commitment to historic preservation.  

       The property in question for rezoning contains 30 +/- acres and does not contain any historic structures.  The 40 + acres that the town is considering for the development of a sports complex contains 2 identified structures, namely the main house and a building to the right rear of the main house commonly referred to as the slave quarters.  The main house sits on an original limestone foundation but the original home burned in the late 1920's.  Salvaged materials from the original home were incorporated into the current structure and include such things as fireplace mantels, front entrance door, staircase, stone foundation, wooden joist supporting the first floor, recessed wall niche in the staircase wall, and custom made table to fit under the staircase.  

The current proposed concept for the sports complex shows all the structures on the town's property being removed from the site.  Please note that this is only a concept to show what playing fields could look like and lay on this tract, and is not a final conceptual design or site plan.  Given the town’s documented commitment to historic preservation, every option will be considered relative to the structures and those include but are not limited to the following:

   Moving the house to another location on the property with the possibility of using the house as an event facility for the sports complex (estimated cost of moving the house is $1M). 
   Moving the slave quarters to another location on the property with the possibility of using it as an information center for Abingdon attractions including the Creeper Trail.
   Removing the house and the slave quarters after all of the original items, i.e. mantels, staircase, etc, have been removed and properly stored for incorporation into another historic property owned by the town or a newly erected structure on the property properly commemorating the home and slave quarters.

       It is important to note that the if the rezoning is approved, the rock, dirt and fill on the site will need to be used for the road improvement project for the Cook Street extension and the developer will need to access the entire site in order to complete the site preparation for the 30 + acres.  Any remaining dirt and fill will need to be used to ready the site for a sports complex.
       It is also important to note that the main home is fragile in its current state and site prep work could take a toll on its stability.  
       The town does expect that the archaeological study review will incorporate recommendations on how to preserve and/or commemorate certain aspects of the home and those will be made available to the public. 

3. Has the town had a consultant review the proposed concept for the development and sports complex sites?

       Prior to proceeding with the construction of a sports complex, the town will procure a consultant to recommend a conceptual design of an acceptable facility on this site.  The consultant will be focusing on items such as:

   the number of baseball fields
   soccer fields
    multi-use fields
   walking trail
   proper lighting
   irrigation needs
   and the necessary accessory buildings for use with the complex.  

       Ultimately the site plan for sports complex would have to be reviewed by the town planning staff and town engineer and be approved by the Abingdon Planning Commission in accordance with current applicable zoning ordinances and guidelines. Currently the property being considered for the placement of the sports facility is zoned AFOS (Agriculture, Forestal and open space) and rezoning will not be required.  It is the current intention of the town staff to recommend to the Council that this property be placed into a conservation easement and/or to place a declaration of restrictive covenants on the property that would prohibit the property from ever being put to any other use than those allowed under the AFOS zoning district.

4. Has the town had a consultant review the proposed concept for the development relative to the financial viability of the project, including revenue projections and costs of operation?

       Several months ago the town hired a Richmond Virginia financial consulting firm to analyze the financial viability of a development of this nature.  That firm was charged with considering the overall out of pocket costs for the town of Abingdon relative to the Cook Street realignment and the buildout of a 40 + acre sports complex and compare that to the revenue projections for an anchor store and a total of 7 out parcels, including 5 restaurants and 2 hotels on the 30+ sought for rezoning.  

       After receiving financial direction and advice from this firm, the town staff began developing a viable business plan for this project.  The business plan would consist three (3) phases as set forth below:

   I. Phase 1 - This phase would include the construction of the realignment of Green Springs Road and Cook Street as well as involve earthwork on the proposed rezoned property for use in the road realignment project. The projected estimates in cost of Phase 1 would range between $7M and $8M, of which VDOT would be responsible for 50% under its revenue sharing program and the town of Abingdon would be responsible for the remaining half of the project.  The buildout phase is expected to take approximately 12 to 18 months.   This road realignment project has been contemplated by both the town and VDOT since 1996 and is necessary from a safety and traffic impact perspective regardless of whether a commercial development is adjacent to this realignment or not; 

   II. Phase 2 - Phase 2 of this proposed development would involve the commercial buildout of the proposed 30+ acre rezoned property which would consist of an anchor retail store and 7 out-parcels, including 5 restaurants and 2 hotels.  The vertical costs of construction for the buildout of this development are estimated at $21,562,250 dollars.  In addition, it is anticipated that furniture, fixtures and equipment would be $8,612,500 dollars.  It is important to note that these costs do not include the purchase price of the property or the cost of the earthwork necessary to prep the site for development.  All of the cost of the commercial development property on the proposed rezoned site would be incurred by the developer and/or owner. In addition, it is important to note that there have been no incentives or financial contributions made by the town of Abingdon relative to the commercial development.  It is expected that the full buildout of this phase would be between 2 and 3 calendar years from the date of the beginning of construction;

   III. Phase 3 - This phase of the project would occur after the necessary earthwork had been completed under Phase 2 and the appropriate final design of the sports complex has been completed.  It is anticipated that the town, after hiring a design consultant, would hold public forums to allow the public to view any proposed concepts and provide comments on the same.  The anticipated cost of the buildout of the sports complex component is estimated between $4.5M and $5.5M.  The town staff will be pursuing all avenues of funding, both publicly and privately, to cover the costs of this project. At this time, town staff is unable to project a timeline for this project but does expect that it would occur within 2 to 3 years of acquiring the property. 

       With this business plan in place, the town staff and town financial advisors have indicated that there are the following reasonable expectations of revenue from the commercial development that could be used to fund the sports complex:

o   Real property taxes $60,000 + per year

o   Total sales revenues of $57,610,413 dollars per year, of which the town of Abingdon could reasonably expect $288,000 + per year from sales its portion of sales tax

o   Meals and lodging taxes of approximately $1.3M dollars per year 

o   Projected new jobs 438

o   There will be additional tax revenues that are currently unknown and have not been projected but are based upon BPOL tax and personal property taxes.  

o   During the 2 to 3 year construction period, it is anticipated that the town will receive additional revenues from the construction work force developing the project

       Relative to the development of the sports complex, the town has an estimate of a full buildout which totals approximately $4.5M to $5.5M.  If re-zoning is approved, the town staff will begin working on projections for costs of operation of the facility, development of a marketing plan for tournaments to be held at the facility as well as development of a schedule for use of the fields by town and county sports leagues.  The town's primary vision for the sports complex is to provide a quality facility for use by the town and county's youth as well as competitive tournament play which could bring in leagues of all ages.  

       The town anticipates that the revenues from the commercial development will exceed what is necessary to cover the cost of the buildout of the sports complex.  Any remaining revenues could be used to increase the town's public safety operations, maintenance and repairs to the trestles on the Creeper Trail, increase in marketing budget for the town to promote tournament play, historic preservation of currently owned town properties, infrastructure improvements, sidewalk projects, and increase of the town's tree canopy.

       It is anticipated that if the 30+ acre tract is rezoned for commercial use, the town of Abingdon will acquire the remaining 40+ acre tract of land from the CEMA Corp. on or before December 31, 2015. 

5. If the re-zoning is approved on December 7th, what happens next?  

In the event that the rezoning is favorable for the applicant, they would then begin the process of meeting the numerous site plan reviews required by the town.  These reviews can generally be classified into two types of review – 1) technical and 2) design. 

       Technical reviews would involve a great deal of engineering and requires multiple reviews by the Town’s Engineering Dept. Staff members to ensure compliance with stormwater regulations, erosion and sediment control, roadway design standards, and utility design standards, just to name a few of the myriad design criteria that must be considered.  This helps ensure public safety by applying local, state, and federal law requirements to each site equitably.  Often, components of technical plans are reviewed simultaneously with other plan reviews to permit grading operations to commence while design reviews are being completed.

       Design review involves consideration by the applicant’s architects, in close coordination with civil engineers, to present the Town with a design for the aesthetic components of the site – or “what it will look like”.  This design review is required by the Town Code for certain commercial zoning districts located along entrance corridors (e.g.- streets leading into town) and if this particular site is rezoned as proposed, it would become subject to these additional review standards.  This review is often the most important component for citizens, as it deals directly with how a new development will both “look” and “feel”.  Since this review is often the most important component to our citizens, we’ll take a closer look at the procedure for design review in the entrance corridor.

Design Review

       Before any building permit may be issued on a property located in the entrance corridor, the applicant must receive a “Certificate of Appropriateness” or “COA” from the Planning Commission.  The intent of this part of the Town Code is to help ensure that changes to commercial properties along the main entrance roads to town are complimentary to the character of Abingdon.  The power to review requests for COAs is delegated to the Planning Commission; however, the Town Council has the ability to hear appeals of decisions made by the Planning Commission.  Applicants are required to submit plans showing elevations of all buildings, faรงade designs/color schemes for all facades visible from public streets, samples of proposed building materials, lighting plans, architectural plans, and landscaping plans, to name a few of the many design elements considered by the Commission.  Once plans are reviewed by the Planning Commission and considered to be favorable to the board, a COA is issued for the development and building permits may be issued. 

       In the case of the CEMA Corp. request, the applicant has agreed that each parcel of land (even if subdivided into out-parcels in the future) would be subject to this strict design review by the Planning Commission.  This would be a legal requirement of the Special Use Permit and would carry forward into the future, regardless of the ownership of the property.  Additionally, the applicant has requested a number of additional restrictions – utilities shall be underground; buildings will not contain vinyl siding/unpainted concrete block/corrugated metal siding; additional screening of service/loading areas; comprehensive signage plans to be required; lighting shall not exceed 24 ft. in height; environmental studies and archeological studies shall be completed – which are above the minimum standards required by the Town Code. 

       It is understood that design review is inherently subjective because it is influenced by the personal feelings, tastes, and opinions of the reviewers – whether they be members of the public or members of the Commission.  Any design that the Planning Commission will consider will be given the utmost scrutiny to ensure compatibility with the character of the town.  Still, the design may not be able to satisfy the desires of every individual.  The purpose of design review is to enact fundamental principles of design which help guide the development to be more compatible with the character of the town than it may have otherwise been presented.

If you have further questions about any of the procedures listed above, you are encouraged to contact the Town of Abingdon Planning Department at 276-628-3167.  Staff members are eager to help citizens understand the often complex requirements that precede any development approval. To view all the blog posts, visit