Resolution on Parks and Green Spaces
The Roanoke City 2040 Plan includes this guidance for land use, “We also need to rethink our assumptions that any new development is beneficial to the city financially. Any developer will state or imply some economic claim in support of a development, and economic value is certainly a valid consideration. Such claims, however, are often made in absolute terms of added real estate value or added sales tax and are not controlled for the development’s consumption of one of the city’s most valuable resources: land. The economic benefit of a development should be considered in light of how much land it occupies. In other words, any benefit should be expressed as benefit per-acre and compared to other development on this basis.”
Pros Consulting published in the Roanoke City Parks and Recreation 2018-2029 Plan that “the
Roanoke community is one of the most passionate and supportive community for parks, recreation and trails/greenways that this consulting firm has seen and the high level of engagement in the community input process bears testimony to that.” The 2019-2028 Roanoke City Parks and Recreation Master Plan identifies the need for an additional 29 acres of parks in ten years and an additional 62 acres in fifteen years. Sustainable land development addresses more than physical structures. Considering the location of development ensures protection of the City’s natural assets. Preservation, of sensitive lands and
habitats, maintains diversity and environmentally significant environmental features.
Green Infrastructure allows for management of stormwater by utilizing natural, sustainable practices. These measures improve safety and quality of life by mirroring natural water cycles. Roanoke’s sustainability – its quality of life and economy – are tied to, and dependent upon, its environment. Our ability to attract new business and new residents is grounded in the beauty of our valley. Future growth and development must embrace preservation of important natural areas as assets and respect the interaction of our built and natural environments, particularly when it comes to managing and anticipating the effects of climate change.
The Roanoke City 2040 Plan states that “Impervious surface contributes to high temperatures,
increased water runoff, and pollution. Reducing the amount of impervious surface within the City improves stormwater management by allowing for more vegetation which in turn adds aesthetic
benefits and temperature regulation. The city’s policies and standards for development and
infrastructure should be updated to reflect our desired results.
• Remove minimum parking requirements
• Encourage space saving parking measures, such as shared parking and parking decks, through incentives and zoning requirements
• Increase permeability requirements as part of parking standards (.e.g, permeable pavers, infiltration strips, rain gardens)
• Replace dated standards, such as impervious surface ratio, with measures that reduce impervious surface while encouraging desired compact development patterns
• Update development standards to increase permeability for existing large areas of impervious surface, especially in industrial and commercial districts
• Incentivize replacement of impervious surface with permeable material
• Use a land tax to discourage excess impervious surface. Encourage parking lots to be removed or repurposed into civic space, green space, and other interactive uses
• When impervious surface is unavoidable, promote disconnection and permeable pavers to reduce storm drain runoff”.
The Roanoke City 2040 Plan states that “The inevitability of climate change makes it necessary to mitigate the effects which, in Roanoke, are most obviously manifested by more frequent and more severe flooding. The City has a responsibility to contribute to the effort of slowing climate change through policies that align livability with sustainable practice. The City of Roanoke’s Climate Action Plan will accompany the priorities, policies, and actions of this plan to increase measures of sustainability and options for resource conservation and protection.”
The Roanoke City 2040 Plan further states that “Stormwater management has traditionally been most concerned with the quantity of water, but there has been increased concern about water quality in the last two decades. The Roanoke River and 11 of its tributaries are impaired or do not meet water quality standards. Maintaining and improving water quality, air quality, and other measurable aspects of the natural environment is needed to ensure the health of current residents, and imperative in preparing for future threats to environmental quality.”
In 2018, Roanoke’s rainfall eclipsed previous records with 62.45 inches, exceeding the normal average by over 20 inches. While that was a remarkable year, even more startling is the increase in the frequency and severity of flooding over recent decades. While most of the increase can be attributed to changing weather patterns, flooding is exacerbated by increasing impervious surface like parking lots. Flood prone areas in the City are identified on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps. These maps may not accurately represent flood potential as rainfall frequency and intensity increases and as better topographic data and analysis tools become available. In fact, recent mapping of the Roanoke River has identified that the most critical flood prone area, the floodway, is larger in many areas than current maps indicate.
Be It Resolved That
Roanoke City act to protect our park land from being sold for private development and increase the acreage of natural park land to increase flood resilience and mitigate urban heat islands.
Roanoke City act to protect homes and businesses from weather events caused by climate change.
Roanoke City update city ordinances and development requirements to protect and increase the tree canopy and natural green spaces.
Roanoke City identify and adopt strong policies to reduce impervious surfaces, specifically
strategies to reduce existing pavement; ensure new development manages stormwater
appropriately and consider how stormwater is managed for redevelopment and retrofit; develop an informed policy for managing development in floodplains and floodways; and advocate for such policies at the statewide level.