The Roanoke city council approved an ordinance to officially establish the Mill Mountain Advisory Board, instead of a committee that's been in place nearly 50 years. As part of the amended ordinance allows for a committee that can review specific proposals for development in the Mill Mountain area.
"We are happy to have this behind us and we are satisfied with the end result" said Nancy Dye, Chair of the Mill Mountain Advisory committee. We will go forward as a permanent board instead of an ad hoc committee."
The permanent board would include key stakeholders like members from the Mill Mountain Garden Club, Fishburn family who donated the land and the Mill Mountain Zoo. The groups will work together to protect and preserve the area's natural beauty.
"The wall on the Mill Mountain greenway as been deteriorating and we want to get that fixed" said Richard Clark, Mill Mountain Advisory Committee member.
The Mill Mountain Zoo is another area where advisory board members can suggest improvements to council. Currently, the zoo operates on a $870,000 budget and only about 5.6% percent of that comes from Roanoke City, Roanoke County and other areas. Moving forward, zoo officials hope to work closely with the permanent advisory board to increase financial support and improve zoo exhibits.
But in the event that development is proposed, the city council also approved plans to create an ad hoc committee. Appointed members would advise council on specific projects planned for the 30 acres of land not protected by conservation easements.
"I don't know what the future may hold, what our children may want" said David Trinkle, council member. "That is why city council was prudent to leave the top 30 acres out of the conservation easement because we just don't know. The zoo may want to put a cafe or coffee shop and if that's the case we may want advice."
Moving forward city leaders hope to work together to help the Star City landmark and it's attractions survive.