Roanoke city leaders talk amending zoning laws, relocating downtown bus station

‘That was not going to stop us from moving forward with a transit transfer center because it’s needed in downtown’

Roanoke City leaders plan to propose amendments to current zoning laws after their request to relocate bus stations was rejected.

ROANOKE, Va. – Now that Roanoke City’s request to relocate the bus station downtown has been rejected by the Board of Zoning Appeals, city leaders are taking another route.

City staff plan to propose amendments to current zoning laws.

The current Campbell Avenue bus station was essentially grandfathered into the Downtown Zone. A new bus station is only allowed in the Downtown Zone with a special exception, which the Board of Zoning Appeals denied in August.

Deputy City Manager Sherman Stovall said it was a big disappointment.

“In the application that was submitted, we felt like we met all of the required standards for the special exception,” said Stovall.

Valley Metro General Manager Kevin Price said that an updated station is needed downtown because it is the destination for 45% of all riders.

“That was not going to stop us from moving forward with a transit transfer center because it’s needed in downtown,” said Price.

On Roanoke City’s GIS website, the Downtown Zone is marked in brown. That’s where the current bus station is and also where city leaders want to put the new station. However, under current zoning laws, a new bus station can only be built in a General-Commercial (CG) Zone, marked in bright red.

That’s why city leaders are hoping to amend the current zoning laws, so that they don’t have to seek a special exception permit at all. The new law would give the city the right to put a bus station in the Downtown Zone, as long as the city met certain required steps.

The proposed location in the parking lot near the Virginia Museum of Transportation has been a cause for controversy. Some residents and businesses worry about the noise level, pollution, and traffic. However, Price disagrees.

“Transportation projects can be the catalyst for future development,” said Price.

Until zoning changes are made, the project is hitting the brakes.

10 News reached out to the Board of Zoning Appeals, but members declined to comment because of the judicial nature of their decisions.

The earliest the amended Zoning Ordinance would reach the Planning Commission for approval would be in November. Council could then vote that same month.

Instead of breaking ground on the new bus station next summer as originally planned, the city estimates that they could put the project out to bid next summer if the zoning amendments pass.

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