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Roanoke Valley leaders examining potential impact of 106-acre project

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - On Tuesday, nearly 150 people showed up to learn more about the future of 106 acres of prime real estate located along Interstate 81.

Leaders from Roanoke County, Roanoke and Salem jointly acquired that land with hopes of developing it. Members of the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority say the size and the visibility of the site make it ideal to target high-wage jobs.

Patrick Kelley lives near the site and attended Tuesday's meeting to learn more about the properties future.

"I want to make sure that any economic growth via additional industrial sites is done responsibly," said Kelley.

The 106-acre project is located on Woodhaven Road, which has several housing developments nearby. Some residents have concerns about potential impacts of added traffic from large businesses that come in the future.

"If we are going to introduce a lot more traffic in terms of shift changes at an industrial site," said Kelley.

The project is still in the planning phase. Officials are currently collecting data on traffic, topography as well as water and sewer infrastructure. Members of the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority expect to attract projects that require 50 acres or more which could have a significant impact on the region.

"Utilize this land for high-quality development that will attract high-quality jobs and significant investment that can be manufacturing, advanced manufacturing," said Beth Doughty, Roanoke Regional Partnership. "It could be a large office project."

Before developing the land, officials plan to conduct a traffic impact analysis, gather public feedback and make improvements. While there are some areas of concern, residents we spoke with say they are excited about the potential.

"I'm certainly not opposed to the county or area attracting more jobs. That is never a bad thing. As long as it is done responsibly and everyone's concerns are addressed," said Kelley. "As much as a comprise that can be achieved."

Tuesday was the first public meeting about that 106-acre project. Officials say they plan to have another public meeting sometime in April.