Roanoke City Council votes against proposed plan for Fishburn Park project

The fate of a proposed coffeehouse remains uncertain after Roanoke City Council shot down rezoning the old cottage in Fishburn Park for the project earlier this week.

Justin vanBlaricom and his wife said they’ve spent a lot of time and money already on the project, submitting their original proposal over a year ago and spending around $15,000 on plans.

“We feel like we owe to people that this isn’t over, and we’re going to do everything we can to make it happen,” vanBlaricom said. “We feel like we’ve got tremendous support in the community to stand behind that.”

As to what their next step is though, vanBlaricom said he doesn’t really know.

On Monday night, the rezoning was struck down in a 6-1 vote.

A surprise to some as the couple already has a contract with the city, and the planning commission unanimously voted to recommend the rezoning.

“Though this is a proposed rezoning and sale, I’m also hearing in it people who very much care for this land and want to keep it in essence what it is, and just add another asset to it,” Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb said in the meeting.

On the other side, some city leaders are concerned about environmental impacts and future potential development.

“The proposal that’s in the plans there, I’m concerned with the future and the people who will be sitting up on this dais that come past my time,” Council Member Luke Priddy said during the meeting. “Once you have a rezoning come in, the amendments they come pretty easy.”

vanBlaricom said a June 30 deadline to close on the property is quickly approaching.

“It’s not a dream to become the next Starbucks,” vanBlaricom said. “It’s not a dream to become like our retirement plan of a coffee empire. It was that this particular park means a lot to my family.”

About the Author:

Amy Cockerham joined the 10 News team in January 2023.