Roanoke County approves rezoning for LewisGale ER despite neighbor objections

Neighbors concerned about increased traffic at entrance to neighborhood

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County leaders approved a rezoning request for a new freestanding LewisGale emergency room in the Bonsack area. The Board of Supervisors unanimously said "yes" to the request on Tuesday night, but only after LewisGale agreed to a proffer and changes to the plan.

County leaders wanted the hospital and the neighbors to find some common ground, which they think happened, but not everyone was pleased. Neighbors in the area off West Ruritan Road at U.S. 460 are skeptical because they felt steamrolled when they challenged the development of a Chick-fil-A in the same area. But board Chairman Phil North made it clear development is coming to the area either way.

"You've got to weigh care for the citizens in terms of having access to medical care against their concerns in this issue," North said.

Neighbors said they're not opposed to the development, but rather the location. They said they want it across the street, on the nonresidential side of U.S. 460, but LewisGale maintains that the location on the westbound side of the road is critical to serving customers coming in from the outside region.

"I once more would like to make an appeal that this project not be approved at this time. Again the problem is the traffic, and not the ER per se," neighbor Nancy Miller said.

But the development is coming, and the supervisors said they felt this was a good use of the land. Neighbors said they didn't want any blasting during construction, and LewisGale agreed to that, which the board saw as a good step.

"Several board members were not going to support it had there not been a blasting proffer, so that coming before LewisGale at the planning commission and before us today was huge, and I'm glad that was brought up," North said.

But this turns all eyes back to the situation on U.S. 460. County leaders say the regional artery needs help from the state, and regional leaders need to step up and band together to ask for it. As the area continues to grow, this thoroughfare needs to grow too.

"It's not something that's going to be accomplished overnight, and it's going to be something that may cost some money, but we need some help in this part of the state," North said.

North said he and others will be making a presentation to the Commonwealth Transportation Board at its regional meeting in a few weeks. He urged citizens to prepare their own comments and feedback and to bring them to the meeting.

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