HopeTree Family Services has asked to delay its request for rezoning and development until the Feb. 14 meeting of the Salem Planning Commission.
The application was submitted to the Jan. 10 meeting. HopeTree, which was founded in 1890 as the Virginia Baptist Orphanage, wants to sell more than half of its 64 acres to developers who could build up to 340 single-family homes, townhomes, shops and a restaurant.
The HopeTree application is for a Planning Unit Development (PUD). The largely greenspace property is bordered by North Broad Street, Red Lane, Mount Vernon Lane, East Carrollton. When founded, it cared for orphans and children whose parents could not care for them. It was a farm that grew vegetables for the dining hall and had livestock which the children helped to tend.
More recently, the campus has also been home to mentally challenged adults and has a day academy for students who can benefit from one-on-one teaching and counseling.
HopeTree representatives have said with changing times and regulations, the facility should change its direction. Existing zoning on 20 acres could allow single-family homes with no zoning changes, but HopeTree plans to sell acreage to developers.
The 14 existing brick cottages and other buildings would remain. According to the plan drafted by Balzer Associates and filed with the Salem Planning Commission, developers want to add single-family houses, multifamily houses, townhouses, a “pocket court” with residences facing a culdesac street, lofts, a community center and shops.
North Broad Street neighbors and other nearby owners are concerned about changes to the HopeTree campus, particularly with potential traffic increases from additional homes. They frequently address Salem City Council during five-minute slots for Citizen Concern at the beginning of regular council meetings.
In addition to traffic, neighbors also have raised concerns about runoff and drainage.
The HopeTree campus is the largest remaining greenspace in Salem City Limits.
According to the plan filed by Balzer Associates with the planning commission, 20-plus existing historic buildings would remain, and developers would add single family homes, multi family homes, townhouses, cluster housing, shops, a town center and other uses.
HopeTree President and CEO Jon Morris has been quoted as saying it would continue to own about 25 acres, with the remainder, 37 acres, going to the developers. Stateson Homes, a residential builder, and Snyder & Associates, a commercial builder, both based in Blacksburg have been mentioned as developers for the potential project.
Once the application goes before the Salem Planning Commission and if the commission recommends approval, it would go before Salem City Council for a vote.