By CASEY FABRIS and BRIANA BARKER
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the Ferrum area plan, designed to guide growth and development in the village.
Director of Planning and Community Development Steve Sandy said the Ferrum area plan differs from those in Union Hall and Westlake/Hales Ford because it is not zoned. As a result, he said, the Ferrum plan has more of an economic development focus.
The plan, which aims to achieve three goals, outlined last year — creating a stronger sense of place, enhancing community well-being, health and safety and supporting economic development and village vitality — was approved by the planning commission in July.
To achieve these goals, the plan looks to capitalize on its location with the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby and emphasize the mountain landscape while maintaining its rural identity. The plan also seeks to address needs in the area such as housing for both seniors and families, revitalizing the village center and designating pace for community events.
Ferrum College President David Johns, a representative of the Ferrum Lions Club and Ferrum residents and business owners, voiced support for the plan during a public comment period.
“The college is committed to and in support of the Ferrum Village Plan,” Johns said, adding the village plan dovetails with the college’s own strategic plan by encompassing plans for the Tri-area Health Clinic and its new ecotourism major.
Beech Mountain Road resident Jenny West said she is “encouraged” by the diversity of people in attendance who have shown an interest in the Ferrum Village Plan.
“You have got a lot of buy-in on this,” she told supervisors. “The key is the how, because the will is there.”
Kat’s Hidden Treasures owner and resident Katrina Harrison said some beautification projects are already underway and offered the side of her building for a mural.
Blue Ridge District Supervisor Tim Tatum encouraged citizens to stay involved in the effort.
“If we approve this plan, that’s just the start,” he said just before the vote. “It’s going to hinge on the effort that comes from you all.”
Some of the goals of the plan will take years to come to fruition, but some seek to be implemented right away such as implementing wayfinding signage and establishing village branding efforts. One of the first goals is establishing a regular meeting of stakeholders, which some volunteers have already begun with a meeting on Aug. 29.
In other actions:
• The board approved a special-use permit for the Western Virginia Water Authority to build a 100-foot tall, 500,000-gallon water storage tank at the Summit View Business Park. The tank will provide storage and fire protection to the businesses inside the park.
• Brian Carter, director of finance, said the county had received approximately $216,000 from its insurer to remedy damage from an April tornado.
• In a work session, supervisors discussed county-owned land that could be sold or developed, including the 80-acre Ferrum property purchased in 1996 for an industrial park. No action was taken.