Vinton Town Council voted to authorize a Real Property Purchase Option with Billy Vinyard, the owner of the former Vinton Motors property, at its meeting on July 18. This action allows the town to market the property to prospective developers in order to encourage redevelopment of the site consistent with the recent revitalization efforts in downtown Vinton.
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters stated that he, his staff, and Vinyard have had frequent meetings over the course of a year, in consultation with the Council Economic Development Committee, discussing future plans for the 1.4-acre site which occupies most of a strategic block in downtown Vinton bounded by Pollard and Maple Streets and Washington and Lee Avenues.
Peters says that he has enjoyed working with Vinyard to develop the plan; that Vinyard “wants to do well for the town and do what is best for the town”; that he is naturally interested in carrying on his family’s historic and respected name in the community and maintaining its community ties; and that Vinyard recognizes that the Vinton Motors property is a crucial piece in the success of the downtown area.
Two firms performed commercial appraisals of the property “to solidify a realistic selling price that would be both acceptable to the owner and attractive to potential developers.” One appraisal valued the property at $1.33 million, the other at $1.9 million.
The town will market the property through an RFP (Request for Proposal) process, which allows it to solicit interest on the town’s “option to purchase,” by advertising and receiving redevelopment proposals submitted by the private sector, much as has been done so successfully at the Roland E. Cook, former William Byrd High School, and former Vinton Library sites.
Peters said that now that the agreement has been authorized by council, the staff will immediately issue the RFP to begin to market the property with the assistance of commercial real estate agents, the Regional Partnership, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), and others.
General terms of the Purchase Option consist of the following:
- All 10 parcels— approximately 1.4 acres— are included. That is the primary parking area, the former Vinton Motors dealership and garage, the former parts store, the former Cundiff’s Drugstore, and a vacant lot on Lee Avenue.
- The option is transferable in whole or part with written consent of the owner.
- The option is valid for two years, and may be extended or terminated based upon mutual agreement.
Peters said that staff was also able to help solve the “perceived parking deficit’ in downtown Vinton by negotiating terms for an associated lease on the Vinton Motors parking lot to be used by local merchants and patrons of various festivals and events which take place downtown and on the Farmers’ Market. The cost of the lease will be a market rate of $5,000 annually, paid by the town to Vinyard for parking seven days a week. This money is already covered under the Economic Development budget and is not an additional expense to the town. The town would provide general liability insurance and promise to keep the lot free of trash and debris.
Mayor Brad Grose, and council members Keith Liles, Sabrina McCarty, and Janet Scheid voted to adopt the resolution executing the Real Property Option and Parking Lot Lease. Vice Mayor Matt Hare opposed the resolution, mainly because of a lack of specificity about the parking lot lease terms.
In other actions, council recognized Town Clerk/Executive Assistant Susan Johnson for fulfilling the requirements to become a Certified Municipal Clerk.
Police Chief Tom Foster commended Officer Andrew DiCarlo, relatively new to the force, for being named Officer of the Month for June, praising “the caliber of officers coming on board in Vinton.” McCarty thanked Foster for his outstanding leadership and the atmosphere he has created in the Vinton Police Department which facilitates recruiting officers of quality and character.
Chief Foster introduced a new officer, Samuel Clay Mitchell Jr. He is a native of the Roanoke Valley and a former Roanoke County police officer. Officer Mitchell holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina.
First Aid Crew Chief Wayne Guffey presented his organization’s monthly report to council. In June 2017, the volunteer truck hours were 441 out of a possible 456 for a 97 percent rating, with two trucks in service for 46 hours. There was a unit in service for 100 percent of the volunteer time. A total of 242 calls were received with the career staff responding to 106 and the volunteer staff responding to 136. The Fractile Response Rate for June was 8.67 minutes when 12 minutes is the standard expected in Roanoke County. Volunteers donated 1,956 man-hours to the community in June.
For the entire fiscal year 2016-2017, volunteer truck hours were 5,532 out of 5,628 for a rating of 98 percent. A unit was in service 98 percent of the time. The station had 2,637 calls; volunteers responded to 1,455 of those. The Fractile Response was 8.72 minutes with total man-hours for the year being 22,576.
The First Aid Crew gained 21 new members in the fiscal year, losing nine, for a net gain of 12 members— bucking a national trend. The First Aid crew currently has 54 members on roll, recently adding Ethan Sweeney, Alex Bradford, and Brandi Guilliams. Two members— Chase Caldwell and Andrew Kelley— passed their EMT certification.
Hare asked Chief Guffey why there was an increase in calls year to year. Guffey responded that there were more events in the town this year and also that drug overdoses are up in adjacent areas, which the Vinton crew responded to.
Peters briefed council on a $50,000 grant the town has received from the Virginia Brownfield Assistance Fund, administered by VEDP and the Virginia DEQ, which will cover the costs of Phases 1 and II of the Gish’s Mill Feasibility Study. While the project requires a 50 percent local match, the town’s purchase of the property covers their portion of the match. Receiving this grant virtually assures the town of receiving additional grants to mitigate clean up of the site, if that is determined to be necessary.
Traffic issues came up several times during the council meeting. Citizen Greg Leslie asked council to consider the dangerous intersection at Mountain View Road and Washington Avenue. Many years ago, there was a blinking light at the stoplight that alerted motorists to the hazards at the intersection. It was removed because of a change in VDOT regulations.
There was also a discussion of vehicles taking a short cut through the Dillon Woods subdivision to avoid the traffic light at the intersection of Hardy Road and Bypass Road, subsequently posing a hazard in the residential neighborhood.
There was also discussion of the “No U Turn” policy at the intersection of Hardy Road and Clearview Drive now that Dr. Zachary Law’s dental office has opened nearby.
Chief Foster and Public Works Director Joey Hiner stated that they would work with the Highway Safety Committee to find a resolution for these issues, considering both law enforcement and traffic signal approaches to the problem.
The regularly scheduled Vinton Town Council meeting on August 1 will be replaced, as usual, with the National Night Out celebration, to be held this year at the Vinton War Memorial.