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 Making plans & 
 making progress. 

Community

Discourage sprawl, preserve open space and protect our viewsheds

  • Zoning code, architectural standards, plan reviews, neighborhood enforcement and the Comprehensive Plan can all work together for a result that honors the town’s rural character while accommodating responsible growth.

 

  • Approve denser development where infrastructure supports it; facilitate infill projects; incentivize housing for all kinds of people. 

 

  • Advance recreational opportunities that honor the natural landscape. Blacksburg’s 15-mile Huckleberry Trail connects to over 60 miles of paved and natural surface trails, featuring natural, historical, and cultural points of interest. 

 

Act to advance our shared interests with Virginia Tech

  • Create transportation and housing solutions that enhance quality of life for the town, but also strength for the university. The schools, services, and housing of Blacksburg have a direct effect on recruitment and retention of staff and faculty at VT and RU.

 

  • Extend BT bus service beyond Blacksburg limits, to serve an expanding university community.  

 

  • Continue working with VT administration to address student conduct in public spaces. Foster opportunities for students to contribute through jobs, internships, apprenticeships and service projects. 

 

  • Work in partnership to expand passenger rail, public health services, and economic development.

 

Work with business and non-profits to provide housing, daycare, jobs and shopping

  • Government can't do everything -- in fact, some people would argue that government can't do most things well. Partnering with the private sector can make us nimble problem solvers. Policies and practices that boost residency within town borders will support our commercial sector, and also contribute to the vibrancy of life in community.

 

  • Establish a business incubator downtown that can help pop-up businesses to thrive also support the work of non-profits. Make the incubator available to enterprises from throughout the New River Valley.

 

As a business owner myself, I can attest to the fact that Blacksburg is a great marketplace.  Every month, dozens of new business licenses are issued. In every quadrant of town, there are new restaurants, new hotels, and new apartments.

Character

Diversity takes many forms

  • Two universities, a community college and multi-national businesses make the New River Valley home to people from over 120 other countries. They enrich the region’s cultural life and commercial offerings, as well as our tax base.

 

  • At the same time, economic diversity is waning in Blacksburg. I don’t want to see my town become a bastion of indifferent privilege. That’s not the Blacksburg I have known, and I’ll work to ensure that it is not the Blacksburg we become. 

 

Economic diversity adds value to community life as surely as age, religious and international diversity do. Those who "know the price of everything but the value of nothing,” will inevitably be in discord with the ethos of a healthy college town.  

 

  • Blacksburg government policy as established by Town Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, genetic information, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, veteran status or sex (including gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy).

 

  • I am proud to preside over one of the most diverse government councils in the state of Virginia. Blacksburg elected officials represent a range of ages, heritage, gender and sexual orientation.

 

Transparency and civility

  • As mayor, I put a premium on orderly, civil meetings that are conducive to public exchange and productive problem-solving. I endeavor to make all citizens welcome and comfortable when they come before council. 

 

  • Town Council seldom enters closed meetings, even when The Virginia Freedom of Information Act would allow it. 

 

  • All members of Town Council receive training and are expected to abide by accepted standards for right relationship, record keeping and what constitutes a legal or illegal public meeting. 

 

Regional thinking and action

  • I advocate for neighborly interactions, built on a generous regard for our County, our Towns, our businesses and our universities.

 

  • Build on the success of our regional water, solid waste, airport, 911 emergency, library, and economic development partnerships. Since 2021, we can boast the addition of the pandemic-related NRV Public Health Task Force and a new Passenger Rail Authority.

 

  • Regionalism requires us to adopt others’ point of view and to respect their interests. “Compromise is not surrender. It is the lubricant of a successful democracy,”  Michael Gerson reminds us.

 

Healthy relations are mutual and equitable -- not by accident but by principled attention to the details. As Mayor, I work proactively with our neighbors to maintain relations that are transparent, friendly and productive.

Common Sense

Sustainability

  • Few Virginia localities demonstrate the commitment to sustainable operations and development that Blacksburg does. Town Council directs policy for clearly articulated programs that govern energy management; urban forestry; transportation; watershed integrity; climate protection; waste reduction and recycling; and sustainable buildings. 

 

  • Boost residency within town borders that will support our commercial sector and also contribute to the vibrancy of life in community.Prioritize the pedestrian experience and reduce traffic by encouraging mixed-use development and alternative transportation. 

 

  • Lobby for legislation that will allow towns to develop incentives or regulations to decrease or otherwise regulate the distribution, sale or offer of disposable plastic bags. 

 

  • Blacksburg’s list of accomplishments, rewards and sustainability initiatives is too long to include here, but is available at this link. 

 

Housing

  • Expedited plan review, density bonuses, and greater liberty to build by-right will go a long way to providing more services, neighborhoods, and housing types.

 

  • In fall of 20201, there are 3,500 new units of purpose-built student housing under construction.  In 2019, Town Council imposed a moratorium on approving anymore. We must instead pursue every other housing type, especially in the “missing middle.”

 

  • Avoid lifestyle conflicts by addressing the pressure that undergraduate students put on single-family neighborhoods: Encourage income restrictions on rentals; HOA rules that disallow rentals; and proffers that observe age limits for residency.

 

  • For two and a half years, I championed the idea of legalizing Accessory Dwelling Units [ADUs] in homes that are owner-occupied. This is a practice that incentivizes owner occupancy, contributing to neighborhood stability.. In 2017, the policy was adopted. In fall, 2021, Town Council is expected to expand on the idea by legalizing ADUs in freestanding structures.

 

  • Support an “academic village” in town limits or on the 2,600 acres available on the VT campus. This would be a location within walking distance of classroom buildings and labs, where staff and faculty could access market rate housing in a surrounding which supports both academic endeavor and family living. 

 

  • Establish a Community Land Trust [CLT] in partnership with the university. This separates ownership of the land from the homes that sit upon it. A CLT home is re-sold to another income-eligible family at an affordable price, allowing successive homeowners to build wealth.

 

Public Safety

  • Lobby for stable, sustained state funding of mental health services. This includes adequate safety standards for the use of alternative transportation, often deployed when individuals experience a mental health crisis. A preferred goal is short-term crisis services, for people requiring evaluation and potential in-patient care.

 

  • In 2020, the Town Council established the Blacksburg Police Advisory Board to serve as a resource for open communication between the community and the Police Department. This local effort also responds to the national conversation occurring around policing practices, police violence and systemic racism. 

Of course, governance is not only about policy: Relationships put policy into effective practice.

 

In Blacksburg, we can be proud and grateful for a Police Department that is nationally accredited and that believes in the principles of community policing to maintain a low crime rate, as well as exemplary community relations.

 

Transportation:  

  • A citizen survey conducted by Blacksburg’s Parks and Recreation Department identified “walking, biking trails and greenways” as the top ranked Town recreation amenity. 

 

  • Continued development of a connected pedestrian and bicycle route network will have a visible effect on the overall quality of life in Blacksburg, enhancing neighorhoods and reducing automobile traffic.

 

  • Move people, not cars: Construct facilities for alternative transportation of all kinds.

 

  • Invest in public transit and passenger rail.  

 

While I welcome growth and change, a healthy community maintains a state of creative conflict where new development is concerned. We must prepare for inevitable growth with a clear vision -- one that will conserve the character of our neighborhoods and streetscapes, as well as our civic culture.

 

Growth in Blacksburg is a given:  Community needs to be cultivated.