The Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously approved a zone change from office park to commercial for the building on Elm Street owned by Virginia Industries Inc.
In 2007, the owners of were granted the same zone change at the site. However, the owners of the property at 1022 Elm St. were not ready at the time to make the change from office park to commercial, Town Planner Kim Ricci said.
Since 2007, the company, which makes ball bearings, has had several cutbacks and currently uses only 50,000 of the 128,000 square feet building at 1022 Elm St. Virginia Industries Inc. has also reduced its total number of employees.
The zone change will allow the owners to explore other options for the property including medical office or services and possibly, retail.
“What we are trying to do is move this site forward,” Patrick O’Leary, who spoke on behalf of the applicant Micheal Goman, said. “We feel rezoning this parcel is of benefit to the municipality here.”
The office park zone was restrictive, according to O’Leary and only allowed for office park, light industrial and research and development. He added some industrial parks located along Route 3 are underutilized.
Commissioner Henry Vasel supported the zone change approval because it would make the property "to be in harmony with the surrounding parcels."
The application at Thursday’s meeting was only for a zone change, so the commission did not need to evaluate conceptual plans or discuss such items as signage.
“There is no project before us at this time. There is no site plan before us at this time,” Vasel said.
Vasel added the zone change would open up Corporate Place, which would help reduce traffic on Route 3 and Elm Street.
Todd Chapman of Copper Beech Drive did not support the zone change because he felt it would increase congestion in the area and said Route 3 is “currently over burdened with traffic.”
“What this will ultimately do is overburden Elm Street,” Chapman said about the zone change. He added that he was not only worried about the possible commercial traffic coming from 1022 Elm St., but people who would be using it as a cut through.
“I don’t see what benefit this has to the residents of Elm Street, Route 3 to any of the neighboring areas,” he said. “I don’t think this proposal adequately addresses what might need to be done to make this parcel for commercial use.”
Even though he thought traffic could be an eventual issue with the parcel, Peter Parrotta, who is the owner of the , supported the zone change.
“The commercial zone gives a lot more flexibility to bringing in commerce,” Parrotta, the former chairman of Economic Development Committee, said. He added that office park is not the right zone for that area of town.
“Its useful life is done,” Parrotta said about office park zone.