New development promises more housing in Northwest, but residents raise concerns

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) Northwest Roanoke Resident Mark Groseclose has lived in his house just off Hershberger Road for the last 10 years. The tree-lined streets, the woods out back, it all adds up, he says, to something that feels more like the country than the city.

"It's basically very quiet," said Groseclose.

However, Groseclose is afraid that quiet could go away with a new, 203-unit apartment complex that's proposed to be built just across his fence line.

The complex would fill in what's now field and single family homes, backing up to backyards on Winsloe Drive and Oaklawn Avenue, and tearing down a number of houses along Hershberger.

It has residents concerned about the density of the population, and what it could mean for traffic. "I just don't know why they have to have it so close to one of the busiest intersections in Roanoke," said Groseclose.

However, Economic Development Manager Rob Ledger sees things a little differently.

"It's a win/win/win situation," he said.

Ledger says the new apartments will be a boost for local businesses, while adding apartments that fit in with the area aesthetic.

"When you increase density in an area, you essentially increase customers. So all the great retail and restaurant establishments out on that corridor are going to do very, very well. Not only the Hershberger corridor, but the Williamson road corridor," he said.

At the same time, Ledger says these apartments fill a gap in the market, costing less than many other complexes in the area.

"These will be priced in the $750-850 range," he said.

In approving the project this week, the Roanoke Planning Commission also recommended steps to mitigate the density and traffic concerns. Under the current plan, the new apartment buildings will be shielded by a ring of trees, and road improvements will be made along Hershberger, including adding a new turn lane.

However, residents like Groseclose say they fear their neighborhood is changing, whether they like it or not.

"I hope they take into consideration what they're doing to our neighborhood," he said.