Grandin Court residents oppose potential development

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - People living in the Grandin Court neighborhood of Roanoke met for a second time this week to discuss opposition to a plan to put in eight new apartment buildings.

Those buildings would go on 17 acres that are currently woods with trails running through them.

Those 17 acres are next to the old Shenandoah Life building and have been an undeveloped resource for years.

That's something people living there are afraid is going to change.

Grandin Court Neighborhood President Freeda Cathcart says, while the land is privately owned, it's been recognized by the city for several years as part of the area plan.

"This is part of our neighborhood plan that was approved by city council in 2005 to be green space, recreational use," said Cathcart.

That's why Cathcart says Carilion received such a visceral response when neighbors were shocked to learn the land had been promised to the developer Berkely Hall.

"There's something to be said, besides the amenity of nature, it has a purpose, and to lose that for our neighborhood would be detrimental," said Cathcart.

She says that purpose is to provide a place for people to walk, jog, and spot wildlife, but aside from the loss of woods, one neighbor nearby says she worries about the increase of traffic.

"They really need to rethink about the number of units that are going to go up in there, because it's really going to affect the traffic along brambleton avenue. i'm concerned from as far over as where overland road is, ross lane, rosewood lane, the intersection of woodlawn, these are dangerous intersections during rush hour," said Wendy Warren.

Cathcart says people are still holding out hope that the park can be saved.

"People have had some great ideas about exploring, creating a land trust that would help carilion get a tax credit," said Cathcart.

WSLS reached out to Carilion, and in a statement, the hospital said it has already signed a binding intent to sell agreement, saying "Carilion Clinic is focused on investing wisely for the good of its patients, neighbors, and community... in the coming months, we will await updates from the developer."

Cathcart says Carilion can only learn what serves the good of neighbors by talking to them.

"The best way to show us that you care is to listen to us and to abide by the plans that we have, and if they're going to change, involve us first," said Cathcart.

Cathcart says the Grandin Court Neighborhood Association will be meeting on March 21st to discuss the issue.

She also hopes a group can be formed to bring their concerns before city council.