Lynchburg Planning Commission Approves Breezewood Apartments

Photographer: Levi Washburn

Lynchburg, VA- The Lynchburg Planning Commission has finally come to a decision on the proposed Breezewood Drive apartment project.

The commission had a public hearing on this last month. Wednesday night, they had a more in-depth discussion, and gave the project the green light.

There was a bit of a debate over the project though. The biggest voice of concern came from Commission Chair Laura Hamilton. She's afraid if the apartments go up, the chances of building a new interchange or commercial space goes down.

"I think it's great that the other commissioners made the decision that they did based on the information that they had. My opinion was different," said Laura Hamilton, Planning Commission Chair.

The commissioners approved a two-part petition. The first part is an amendment to the Future Land Use Map that allows for commercial use of the property. The second part rezones the four-acre plot to allow 50 townhome-style apartments to go up.

"The highest and best use of that land was not a higher density rezoning for townhomes, but the maintenance of the ability to develop it commercially," said Hamilton.

A development like the Lakeside Centre just across the expressway from Breezewood. It was set to break ground in 2009, but was scrapped because of the recession.

"The world changed in 2007 and 2008. And the chance of any significant retail here is very remote, as far as the near future," said Ray Booth, with English Construction.

Massive commercial development has been deemed unlikely. But the city is still debating a new interchange in the area. So in an effort to keep options open, Hamilton tried to compromise, suggesting the commission rezone only half the Breezewood property. That would cut back on the number of homes Mark Hartless could build.

"The 50 unit development just comes in under the wire to make it even interesting to me," said Mark Hartless, the apartment petitioner.

And that didn't suit Hartless.

"I just wouldn't go through with it. I couldn't justify it," said Hartless.

Leading the commission to approve the petition.

Hamilton opposed both parts of the petition. Commissioner Gerry Swienton opposed rezoning the property. The petition will now go in front of City Council, where a final decision will be made.