BRISTOL, Va. — Residents of one city neighborhood packed the City Council chambers to voice their displeasure with a proposal to locate an RV park and campground on adjacent land on Tuesday.
More than 20 people spoke out against the plan during a joint public hearing involving the City Council and Planning Commission. The city has received a request to rezone about 19 hillside acres off Long Crescent Road from R-1A single family residential to B-3 general business. The land overlooks Interstate 81 and is next to the Woodmen of the World insurance office, while the majority of residences are on the opposite side of the hill.
The request came from a group called Long Crescent LLC, which is comprised of Councilman Kevin Wingard’s wife, daughter and son-in-law. Wingard said he wasn’t part of that group but declared the conflict at the beginning of the hearing. He has abstained from voting and discussion while the Planning Commission developed regulations for RV parks during the summer.
Resident Loretta Trayer, a longtime real estate broker who lives next to the site, was among the first to urge council to reject the request.
“No doubt this zoning change will affect me personally, as my property value will significantly decline, as will my lifestyle, safety and privacy I’ve enjoyed all these years,” Trayer said. “A downgrade of property values is going in the wrong direction.”
Retired Judge Larry Kirksey also opposes the request, calling the proposed park “an incursion, an intrusion and an infringement” on the adjoining neighborhood.
“That is just not right. That is just not right,” Kirksey said. “Common sense tells you this should not be done — traffic issues, safety issues and the like. This property needs to stay R-1A and remain in that fashion.”
The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the request at its Sept. 16 meeting, and it could come back to the City Council on Sept. 24. As an ordinance, it would require council votes at two meetings to be approved.
“I think it’s very important, when there’s a significant possibility for a rezoning issue like this, that you do have citizen participation, that they come out and voice their opinion,” Mayor Neal Osborne said after the meeting. “It has to go through Planning Commission first. I personally have some serious reservations with it. It needs to be looked at very carefully before we do anything to change the nature of a neighborhood.”