Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Huff Lane: A Decision Based in Disrespect

Huff Lane School: Hotels to replace it.
Last night's 4-3 vote in favor of the development of two hotels and a restaurant in a residential neighborhood of Roanoke (mine) is a disgrace on a number of levels, not the least of which is Councilman Court Rosen's contention that all the opposition had going for it was the emotion of the moment.

That disrespectful and inaccurate assertion was typical of this entire long process wherein two hotels will be plopped down where a school (Huff Lane) now rests in Dorchester Court, which runs parallel to Valley View Mall, but was never meant to be part of that development. The school has been closed for some time now (a tragedy in itself) and council has pondered what to do with it to enrich the city treasury. This decision (and one more to follow) sets the stage for the sale of the school and about half its grounds to a hotel and restaurant developer. A view of the mountains around our neighborhood will be forever destroyed by the development, no small matter to us.

Council and the planning department have consistently treated people in this quadrant of the city as meddlesome rubes whose only argument is "not in my back yard," the same one they'd make if the hotels were going in next door to their homes. But there's more to it than that. There is an implied disrespect in Rosen's remark that is as troubling as the council decision. Councilman Sherman Lea felt it when he made his impassioned defense of the neighborhood. Mayor David Bowers--a man with whom I have disagreed often, but who took the high road here--has defended neighborhoods throughout his political career and Anita Price, as usual, landed on that side of this issue.

Those in favor of development--especially Rosen--will hear about this decision for the foreseeable future. They have created another segment, like the people around Countryside Golf Course, nearly everybody in Southeast, and those in Gainsboro, whose mistrust of City Council and the planning department is intense, earned and growing. Council has shown little respect for the desire of these neighborhoods to be apart from commercialization.

My guess is that we have not heard the end of this.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dan,
    Let's not forget "[but] because fewer than five voted in favor, the council will reconsider the matter in a second reading on March 4" (Roanoke Times 2/20). Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like the last chance to try to stop this thing?