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New Roanoke bus terminal in limbo as project is denied key permit

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 12:55 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A major setback has left the downtown Roanoke bus terminal project in jeopardy. Wednesday afternoon, the city’s zoning appeals board voted to deny a key permit, possibly forcing the officials to go back to the drawing board.

The board’s decision came after nearly two hours of discussion and debate Wednesday afternoon, with nearly 20 people calling with concerns ranging from noise to safety. In the end, a majority of the board agreed with those concerns, voting against giving the city its needed special exemption permit 5 to 2.

The vote puts the future of Roanoke’s planned multi-million-dollar transit center in limbo. The city’s original goal was to build a new Valley Metro bus terminal in the parking lot on Salem Avenue in front of the Virginia Museum of Transportation. The current transit center would have been handed over to developers, to be turned into shops and restaurants.

In a statement, Assistant City Manager Sherman Stovall said the city is “very disappointed” with the board’s decision, adding “we will need to explore the options available to us and decide on a course of action.”

But while Stovall was disappointed, others were “ecstatic. I was pretty excited,” said Remington Hinshaw, the president of the Candy Factory Homeowners Association and the Salem Avenue Business Association.

Hinshaw has been fighting against the new terminal for the last year.

“I just don’t think that this location that they were proposing to implement it in was ideal,” he said.

Hinshaw worried the terminal would damage property values in the area, and hopes that now, the parking lot will be turned into something more in line with the rest of Salem Avenue, “so that people actually enjoy being downtown in that area, and want to be out and about, and feel safe in that area.”

The city can appeal the board’s ruling. However, as of Wednesday night, officials have not said what their next steps will be.

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