Neighbors continue to rally against proposed Lucy Drive development

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 10:43 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - People living in nearby communities continue to fight against a proposed housing development along Lucy Drive in Harrisonburg that will be considered by the city council on Tuesday.

The proposed ‘Simms Pointe’ development would include 80 apartment units targeted at working families. The opposition from neighbors is strong with more than 170 people submitting written comments to the Harrisonburg City Council hoping they’ll deny the idea.

“The neighbors have come together quite well and I think there’s going to be a lot of phone calls tomorrow night, a lot of letters have been going into council members, and we hope the city council will be reasonable and look at all the facts and vote no on this proposal,” said Rick Nagel, a resident of the neighboring Vista Terrace Townhomes and one of the primary organizers of the neighbors’ efforts to oppose the project.

Earlier this month, the Harrisonburg Planning Commission narrowly voted to recommend approval of the project on a 4-3 vote despite the opposition from neighbors.

“It’s not that we don’t want affordable housing in our neighborhood, it’s just that we don’t want anything that falls under the R-5 high density. We don’t want student housing. We don’t want luxury housing. We don’t want any kind of housing under R-5,” said Leslie Falconi, a resident of the neighboring Bluestone Hills subdivision.

People in the surrounding communities worry about the increase in traffic and congestion that the apartments would bring to the area and feel the surrounding infrastructure would not be able to support the influx of people.

“There are basically no sidewalks here, no controlled intersections, no crosswalks, and to get to any of the amenities you’re gonna have to dodge oncoming traffic,” said Paul Clancey, a resident of Emerald Drive estates whose property borders the proposed development.

Paul Clancey and his wife Kathy are not alone in their concerns about the development. They’ve been in touch with many of their neighbors who also border the property and oppose the development.

“It’s a very diverse group of neighbors and we have probably 80 to 100 on an email list that we’ve been communicating with for the past month about our concerns with this property development,” said Kathy Clancey.

In addition to their concerns about increased traffic and density, neighbors point to the city’s comprehensive housing study in which city staff listed possible locations for high-density housing developments.

“Of 96 sites that were recommended by staff 10 sites were actually put into the study where this particular type of development could go and it’s very conspicuous that Lucy Drive was not mentioned as one of those ten locations,” said Nagel.

These neighbors hope their comments and concerns will resonate with the council even though the meeting is virtual.

“We just feel like we could’ve had so much more of an impact if they really had seen actual people in the lobby or in the chambers, just by seeing the number of people there I think they would really understand how this is impacting our neighborhood,” said Falconi.

Neighbors have also raised concerns about the Ohio-based developer Woda Cooper Companies which they say has a track record of issues like mismanagement of property, poor maintenance, and poor treatment of tenants in its other properties around Virginia and West Virginia.

The developer refuted those claims in a letter to the Planning Commission and City Council which addressed the specific examples laid out by neighbors.

WHSV spoke briefly with the developer on Monday, but they had no additional comment beyond what was stated in the letter, which can be found on the city council agenda.

That council meeting will take place on Tuesday at 7 p.m. you can view the full agenda here.

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