ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A Roanoke County neighborhood that was a hotbed of controversy five years ago is feeling some deja vu. In 2014 neighbors along West Ruritan Road fought the plan for a Chick-fil-A at the entrance to their neighborhood in Bonsack, and now five years later they're facing another planned commercial development on the residential side of 460.
Some people have since mellowed out about construction in the area, saying the fears back then ended up being just fears, while others remain against LewisGale's planned freestanding emergency room. The opinions varied depending on how close the neighbors lived to the entrance of the neighborhood where the development is.
According to county filings, the facility is proposed to look similar to the one LewisGale opened two years ago near Tanglewood Mall on the other side of the county. The hospital is asking the county to rezone from residential to commercial, and tear down the existing house on the property.
Mike Grome and his wife were against the Chick-fil-A development back then, and they said it has caused them problems since it opened. They were and still are concerned about the traffic on their entrance road and parking that overflows the restaurant's lot.
"It's putting the safety of our children and the general public over a chicken sandwich, and that's not right," Grome told 10 News in August 2014.
The Gromes are also against the new development, as are others closest to the proposed site, with one even saying they're going to move because of it. Those that live closest to the intersection said they're concerned about the idea of more cars at the doorsteps.
"I have a grandson that comes and stays with us and I can't let him outside because I'm afraid he'll get hit," neighbor Kathy Smith said.
But others in the neighborhood, farther away from the intersection, aren't as concerned. A few said they were never against the Chick-fil-A in the first place, and that some local kids even work there. Jeanette Ashley was against the Chick-fil-A at the beginning, but said many of the fears never came true.
"(We thought) a lot of traffic was going to end up on my street, and that didn't happen," Ashley said. "I was worried about a lot of trash, it didn't happen."
Ashley has the luxury of being up the road from the intersection and not directly next to it. She works in health care and welcomes another place for people in the area to receive medical attention. She understands that her side of town is a growing one, and is generally OK with the development, but understands her neighbors' concerns and wishes it was the other side of 460 next to an already existing CVS.
"Maybe if we had something down this way it would be more convenient," Ashley said. But I don't know if that is the perfect lot for it, I think there's plenty of other lots around."
LewisGale did not have any comment for this story, and said it's too early to say anything more other than what they've already communicated to residents. The county is scheduled to discuss the rezoning request for the first time at its Tuesday meeting at 3 p.m. A public hearing will be scheduled for later in October.