At its called meeting on Tues. Sept. 27, Clifton Forge Town Council voted 5-0 to sell its building at 403 Ridgeway St. to Ricky Swoope, who was present with his wife, Amy; for $30,000.
According to Town Manager, Chuck Unroe’s report at Council’s regular meeting earlier in the month, the tax accessed value of land and building was $37,500, but the report he made to the council at the time indicated that an engineer and painting contractor had estimated the cost of renovating the building would be $86,000.
Dr. Ronald Goings, a former member of the Clifton Forge Town Council who attended the earlier meeting, advised the Council to sell the property to avoid the cost of renovating the building that Ricky had previously rented from the Town of Clifton Forge.
At the meeting Goings attended, Council tabled a motion to refrain from accepting the planning commission’s recommendation to rezone the Eastern side of the 500 Block of Commercial St. from commercial to residential. The motion was tabled after four votes ended in a tie at 2-2. Councilwoman Deborah Laudermilk was not present to cast the deciding vote.
Prior to the discussion about whether or not to comply with the planning commission’s recommendation to rezone the 500 Block of Commercial St. from Business General (BG) to Residential (R3), Unroe, with yardstick in hand, pointed to the area on a map of the 500 Block of Commercial St. that he had projected onto the wall so that all could view and explained what rezoning would entail.
After a lengthy discussion, the Town Council voted 5-0 to rezone the Eastern side of the 500 Block of Commercial St. from Business General (BG) to Residential (R3).
Two residents of the 500 Block, Eric Drenan and J.W. Dudding, spoke in favor of the rezoning.
Also, Diana Kling-Smith, chairman of the planning commission that had recommended the rezoning of the 500 Block prior to the earlier meeting, spoke to Council and expressed her concern about the negative impact rezoning might have on Russell Crance’s commercial storage building that previously operated as a repair shop for trucks, noting that she was not speaking for other members of the planning commission who had not been privy to Crance’s objection to rezoning when the decision had been made.
Prior to her addressing Council, Unroe had read a letter that Crance had written, one requesting that Council refrain from rezoning because it would reduce the value of his property on which he has paid taxes for years.
Because Council had tabled the motion at its regular meeting, Council was required to vote on the tabled motion before any new motions concerning rezoning could be made.
With Laudermilk present, the previous-tabled motion that would have carved out a space for Crance to operate a commercial business inside his building was defeated 3-2, with the four councilmen voting as they had previously, Shorty Wolfe, councilman; and Jeff Irvine, mayor; voting for rezoning and Robert Umstead, vice-mayor; and Dale Burdette, councilman; voting against rezoning.
After the new rezoning motion was made without any exceptions to allow commercial businesses to operate in the 500 Block, Council voted 5-0 to rezone the 500 Block of Commercial St. as Residential (R3).
In other business, Council approved the closure of Commercial St. for an annual Halloween event sponsored by Clifton Forge Main Street on Oct. 29, by a 5-0 vote.
In the regular Council meeting, Council had approved the same consideration for the Shriner’s Fall Foliage Festival as had been approved in 2021, and a motion to permit the Shriner organization to add to its previous usage area an additional area in front of PrimisBank on Main St. across the street from The Historic Masonic Theatre extending from the fountain to Commercial Ave. was approved by a 5-0 vote.
Following the vote, Irvine called for a motion to adjourn, and the meeting ended with a 5-0 vote.