Countryside Proposal Saves Barn and Silo

An artist’s rendering of the Countryside barn and silo.

An amendment to the Countryside Master Plan irritates the neighborhoods

by Stuart Revercomb with contributions by Valerie Garner

ABEAR Performance Training has submitted a letter of interest for development on the former Countryside Golf Course property. The proposed project would renovate the former barn and retain the adjacent silo. The property is located at the intersection of Frontage Road and Highland Farm Road. The 8½-acre area would be developed with a baseball infield, batting cages and bullpens, and an unlit field for football and soccer practice. Sale price negotiations are continuing.

City Council reviewed the proposal and has given approval to open up the concept to public review and move to the formal proposal stage. Council approval at this stage does not involve any commitment by the City or ABEAR said Chris Chittum Planning Administrator.

ABEAR is a for-profit athlete performance trainer. They provide instruction, programs and motivation to athletes and clients. They also run the Gator Aquatic Center. Robert Hebert and Matt Overman are trainers.

The Frontage Road parcel was the former home for the 18th fairway of Countryside Golf Course that was purchased by Roanoke City in 2005 for $4.1 million. Former city manager Darlene Burcham presented to council a use for upscale housing and an interest from homebuilder Toll Brothers, Inc. That interest evaporated and the city has been struggling with what to do with the property every since. The golf course in need of repair fell victim to budget cuts and was closed in March of 2010.

The parcel with the barn abuts a row of villa homes on Tuckawanna Circle that are primarily rentals. However, Chittum said he has received comments from owners and renters not pleased with the close proximity of the field and baseball diamond.

The Countryside Master Plan adopted by City council in June 2011 identified the parcel as ideal for light commercial such as of?ces, educational uses, and light industrial development for assembly. Chittum said that it matched plan under the “commercial” criteria as a non-profit that would bring 10-15 jobs.

No public meeting is planned for the proposal. Comments, questions and concerns should be direct to Chris Chittum, Planning Administrator at Email: Chris.Chittum@roanokeva.gov Phone: (540) 853-2356.

An amendment to the Countryside Master Plan is going before the Planning Commission June 21. A date will be set for a public hearing. The amendment is to change the 12-acre parcel that once belonged to the Roanoke Regional Airport from agriculture to recreation. The planning department initiated the change when the neighborhood rejected the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op plans to house over 400 chickens on the site.

The Northwest Recreation Center has plans for a soccer sportsplex and use of the tennis building. Charles Price, Council member Anita Price’s husband and Clay Dawson have been working with the city to fit four soccer fields in what was designated for recreation on the central parcel of the former golf course across from the William Fleming stadium. All four fields will not fit together in the current configuration and Northwest Recreation approached the planning department and asked to place two of the soccer fields on the agricultural parcel.

The parcel is centered between two neighborhood groups – Miller Court and Countryside Neighborhood Alliance. Neither group wants soccer fields adjacent to their homes that have already devalued by an average of $22,000 said Vince Barci of Countryside Drive. Susan Hall who lives on Ranch Road said, “I can’t understand why we are already amending the Master Plan after we’ve had all these meetings. Now after seven years of meetings we have to fight the city again. I’m tired of this – where is the promised certainty.”