VINTON–Joy Payne summed up the sentiments of most of those who attended the Community Meeting/Open House on the proposed rezoning of the former Vinton Library site to accommodate a Macado’s Restaurant—“Welcome.”
About 30 citizens attended the meeting at the Vinton War Memorial on June 6 to examine site plans and talk with town and county officials, as well as Richard Macher who plans to redevelop the site. Town Council was then briefed on the proposed restaurant site plan and proposed rezoning at their meeting on June 7.
The property is currently zoned RB Residential Business and needs to be rezoned as GB General Business.
According to Vinton Planning and Zoning Director Anita McMillan, the building was used as a library from 1969 until 2015 when the new Vinton Library was opened downtown. The building occupies about 9,000 square feet and sits on 1.27 acres with frontage along Washington Avenue and Meadow Street.
After the rezoning application was received on May 31, letters were mailed to 91 surrounding property owners on May 26 to notify them of the rezoning request and of the open house on June 6, the Planning Commission public hearing on June 9, and the Town Council public hearing on June 21. Flyers about the open house were sent to 45 surrounding occupants as well.
The conceptual plan proposes a dining area of 9,292 square feet which requires 30 off-street parking spaces. Currently there are 17 off-street parking spaces on the property with an additional 13 spaces to be constructed in the grassy area adjacent to the building.
Shared-use, off-street parking will be provided in the War Memorial parking lot as well. Council was told that use of the War Memorial parking might require a change in the traffic pattern to allow two-way traffic entering that lot from Meadow Street. The road is currently one-way.
The proposed hours of operation for the full-service Macado’s restaurant would be 8 a.m. until midnight seven days a week.
Total renovation costs are expected to be about $1 million. The renovations are expected to take about nine months, with a tentative opening in the spring of 2017.
The estimated seating capacity for the restaurant is between 120 and 150 seats. An outdoor seating area with a fire pit is planned.
The projected number of employees is four full-time and 50-60 part-time on staggered shifts.
At the open house, Macher said that he has considered “coming to Vinton for a long time; the key was finding the right location.”
“The library popped out as a beautiful setting with the War Memorial in the background,” said Macher.
He went on to explain his connections to Vinton—his mother lived here; an estimated half of his office staff lives in Vinton; and attorney Dick Cranwell for years has urged him to open a restaurant in Vinton.
With young relatives who have participated in sports competitions in the area, he voiced a comment frequently heard from Vintonites and visitors over the years—when youth athletes compete at local sports fields and facilities, there is “nowhere to eat afterwards,” aside from fast food.
Macher believes a Vinton Macado’s will fit in well with his established group of restaurants, which find a different clientele in each location.
In her briefing with town council on June 7, McMillan presented traffic data from VDOT showing annual average daily traffic. Approximately 21,000 vehicles travel from Gus Nicks Boulevard to Pollard Street, with comparable numbers traveling on Washington Avenue and Bypass Road. The conclusion–the former library property is located along a major four-lane corridor which is currently underserved by full-service restaurants.
At the open house and in written and phone communications, town staff received many, and mostly, positive comments about the project.
A couple at the open house who returned to live in Vinton recently said that they are glad to see that Vinton is becoming more progressive and actively pursuing new business, especially a new restaurant.
“Although not a current resident, as a lifelong Vintonite and in my capacity as a leader for Vinton business (Carilion Clinic), I believe this is one of the strongest opportunities for Vinton is decades and I fully support moving this forward quickly,” said Don Halliwell.
“We are so excited about Macado’s coming to Vinton,” said Stacie Brinkley. “Both as a resident and a business owner, I fell this is going to be a win-win for all involved.”
One individual expressed concerns about the possible need for a traffic light nearby.
Darlene McCaskill, who owns rental property on Meadow Street directly across from the library, wrote about her tenants who are senior citizens “who value their peace and quiet.” She suggested that music which could be heard outside the building cease by 8 or 9 p.m. each evening; that parking for the restaurant not be permitted on Meadow Street, with signage indicating parking is only for residents; and that traffic be kept to a minimum on Meadow with perhaps a restaurant entrance off Washington Avenue.
She also suggested that a row of tall evergreen trees along Meadow Street would help buffer the noise and form a sort of boundary separating the business property from the residential area. She mentioned that the dumpster which might create a bad odor in the area could be enclosed by walls or picked up frequently.
Councilwoman Janet Scheid stated during the briefing that she would like for Macher to submit a “proffered site plan” for the proposed renovations.
Meetings on the proposed rezoning continue on June 9 and June 21. The public is urged to attend.