Two rezoning applications and a pair of special exception permits related to planning for more than 270 apartments and a seniors’ community in Madison Heights have received the recommendation of the Amherst County Planning Commission for approval.
The commission voted Aug. 18 to approve four zoning measures requested by Terry Morcom, who is proposing the major development on Virginia 163 near its intersection with Virginia 210 near the Lynchburg border. Morcom, an agent for WEK LLC, in a July 21 letter to county officials, wrote that the development is designed as a beautiful community that will contain apartments with a swimming pool and an adjoining community building with commercial space that will eventually attract a gas station, medical offices or retail area.
“This community will have a large green space with walking paths, soccer fields, pickle ball courts and a clubhouse,” Morcom wrote. “This will serve as an area that can be used by this community with the senior living community adjoining it.”
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The Senior Living Community is intended for seniors aged 55 and over, offering senior citizen villas, two-story self-contained living apartments, and a two-story memory care center. The intention is to build in phases with a red light entrance at Virginia 163 and Virginia 210. Phase 1 consists of apartments and villas for seniors, the next phase consists of apartments for seniors and the third contains the memory care facility, according to Morcom’s letter.
The largest rezoning request is to convert 15 acres of general commercial property (B-2) to multi-family residence (R-3) for apartments, community building, swimming pool and open space. The commission also recommended approving the density of up to 276 apartments and 150 units as part of the Senior Independent Living Apartments.
Morcom said the development meets a demand for apartments and senior housing “at market price”.
“These are first-class apartments,” Morcom said. “We think this is an essential project. We feel like we’re addressing issues that the county can benefit from…we’re trying to make this an asset to Amherst County.
Nearly a dozen people spoke at a series of public hearings on the development, mostly opposing the project with concerns largely centered on traffic, noise and how it will affect access to their existing neighborhood nearby.
Mike Ogden has lived in the subdivision adjoining the development area for over 50 years.
“One of our biggest concerns is traffic,” Ogden said. “We are concerned about the density of people coming there.”
Ogden said it’s been a quiet community for decades and an increase in residents would strain an already stressful red light situation that makes it difficult to get in and out of the neighborhood.
Heather Jamerson, who lives in the neighborhood, said Morcom had a beautiful property that she saw every morning from her garden.
“The type of buffer I have is a concern,” Jamerson said. “It’s a mess when someone grows next to you. I can’t stop progress and I’m not trying to. I’m just worried about it.
She said she feels the proposed density unit per acre is too high.
“Our neighborhood, we can’t hold this,” Jamerson said. “We are not prepared for this. There must be a better plan than this before we move forward. We need to plan better.
A few stakeholders said they were not opposed to growth and felt development was necessary, but would be more beneficial elsewhere.
“The traffic is crazy,” said Carl Deans, who lives in the neighborhood. “What are you going to do at 5 p.m. traffic?” It’s already a mess. »
Frank Thomas, who lives across the site from the proposed development, said he did not think the infrastructure was adequate.
Another speaker said she was afraid someone would get killed at a red light because of the danger that came out of it, and another asked for the public sewer to come to the neighborhood if the developer had access to that utility. .
The property is serviced by public water and the county is investigating the feasibility of adding a public sewer, according to the county’s community development department.
Morcom said the goal is to bring first-class development to an area the county has designated for growth.
“Hopefully we’re not going to have a bunch of rowdy old people living there,” Morcom said. “We offer a top-notch facility. We try to give you something the county will be proud of.
Jeremy Bryant, director of community development, said the Virginia Department of Transportation was still evaluating the project but had not released a formal impact analysis by the time of the Aug. 18 meeting. A second entry on Virginia 163 into development is planned. Sidewalks would also be built, including the full length of Virginia 163, Bryant said.
A few commissioners said the development was dependent on the VDOT review and the availability of public sewers.
Morcom said the villas for unassisted seniors and the memory care facility are the heart and soul of the project which he describes as a “transitional” community for the aging population. He said he had contacted senior living companies to manage it, had generated interest and was told it was in a perfect location, close to shops, restaurants and the US 29 business corridor and bypass. It is also on the route of the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company and less than 10 minutes from Lynchburg General and Virginia Baptist hospitals, he said.
Another 0.3 acre rezoning would allow this land to become part of the senior living community and the two special exception permit applications include 17 acres for apartments and approximately 26 acres for the care facility. memory with 140 units as well as an independent senior living facility with 150 units, according to county documents.
The Amherst County Board of Supervisors discussed the public sewer aspects of the development at the August 2 board meeting. The four zoning measures the commission has recommended for approval will be brought to council for consideration likely in September.
Supervisor Jimmy Ayers, who observed much of the Aug. 18 commission meeting, recently spoke about the need for the county to improve utility infrastructure on and around the Virginia 210 corridor.
“If growth is going to jump the James River, that’s where it’s going to jump,” Ayers said.
He said Morcom was making a significant investment in the county with the development proposal and asked what the council could do to help offset infrastructure costs.
“We need to do our part in looking at infrastructure expansion in this corridor, as there has been intermittent interest over the years,” Ayers said. “I just think we’ve gotten to the point where we have to and when you look at not just the connection that we’ll see on the return… the tax-based revenue will be substantial as well. I think we need to do what we can as a county to help facilitate that growth.”
Supervisor Tom Martin said the County Economic Development Authority, Amherst County Service Authority and county officials should find ways to fill a funding gap when it comes to sewer infrastructure. public.
Commissioner Derin Foor said the development is beneficial to the county’s growth needs at a time when Madison Heights revitalization efforts are in full swing.
“This county needs housing and jobs, and Mr. Morcom is offering to bring both to this property,” Foor said.
The commission recommended approval of two separate special exception requests for the short-term rental of two homes, one on the 300 block of Elon Road and the other on the 100 block of Apple Way in Madison Heights.