Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Bristol, Va., planning staff Friday (Sept. 13) recommended approval of a zoning change that would allow a controversial RV park to be built near an established residential neighborhood, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.

The staff recommendation appeared at the end of a 15-page report attached to the planning commission’s agenda for its Monday meeting. The request to rezone about 19 hillside acres from R-1A residential to B-3 general business comes from Long Crescent LLC, which is comprised of the family of Councilman Kevin Wingard. Wingard has said he isn’t part of the project, and he abstained from voting when the planning commission developed regulations for RV parks earlier this summer.

Monday’s meeting comes on the heels of an emotionally charged public hearing Tuesday, when more than 20 residents expressed universal opposition to the plan.

“Easy access and proximity to Interstate 81 and visibility from the highway are features that make the subject property appropriate for commercial development,” according to the city report. “The 19-acre tract is large enough to accommodate a commercial business or even multiple businesses.”

The staff recommendation notes the land is vacant and has been for years, that commercial development is consistent with the 2017 comprehensive plan and that most types of businesses allowed under B-3 would want to locate on a road with a higher traffic count.

Earlier this summer, the planning commission developed the zoning code section to allow RV parks and campgrounds in the city. It was subsequently approved by the city council.

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