Salem and Roanoke Co. neighbors protest proposed nursing home

Attendees of the Tuesday night meeting look at a map of the proposed nursing home. Photo by Kelsey Bartlett.
Attendees of the Tuesday night meeting look at a map of the proposed nursing home. Photo by Kelsey Bartlett.
Around 80 Roanoke County and Salem residents gathered at Hidden Valley Country Club on Tuesday evening to protest a 180-bed facility that could be coming to their neighborhood.

Medical Facilities of America, a company founded by Fralin and Waldron in 1970, is planning to build a one-story, 95,000-square foot, skilled nursing and rehabilitation center on Keagy Road at its intersection with McVitty Road in Roanoke County. The property is directly across from Hidden Valley Country Club and a residential area.

“We think that intrusion is unwarranted,” said J.C. Poindexter, who lives across the street from the proposed facility, and has been deemed the “voice” of the protest. “There is already plenty of land that is commercially owned available along Electric Road.”

Poindexter said one of the group’s main concerns is the increase in traffic. The last traffic study in the area was conducted in 2013 by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Poindexter said there needs to be an updated traffic study to paint a more accurate depiction.

“It’s a general degradation of the neighborhood. There are huge concerns about traffic,” he added. “With some 300 workers coming in and going out everyday, some ambulance traffic and truck traffic.”

This week, those affected were informed of the project via letter, sent by the company’s vice president of development, Bruce Hedrick.

“Our overriding mission is caring for and caring about patients in our community with a variety of medical needs,” Hedrick wrote. “As our local population continues to age, we would like to bring a new state-of-the-art skilled nursing facility to Roanoke to help meet those growing needs.”

While most neighbors of the project seemed empathetic towards the need of additional nursing facilities, they overwhelmingly disputed the need for it to be placed in their neighborhood.

“There is enough commercial land available,” said Keith Christiansen of the neighborhood. “They don’t need to turn a residential community into a nursing home.”

The company filed a land use application with Roanoke County Department of Community Development to rezone 23 acres from a Low Density Residential Area to a Planned Technology District in the Windsor Hills Magisterial District. A community meeting is planned for Monday, Aug. 15 by the company at Hidden Valley Middle School.

“The city/county line is right there in the middle of Keagy Road, right there between the proposed development and the residential community,” Poindexter said. “At the back of the facility, there is McVitty Road with a number of golf course frontage houses that will be an area lighted commercial facility instead of a pond and the mountains beyond… it’s an egregious affront to the neighborhood.”

Tony Aust, who lives on Keagy Road at a Salem address, will be directly across from the center. She helped form the Hidden Valley Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, which hosted the event Tuesday night. She, along with other attendees, is upset with what they perceive as short-notice by Roanoke County. Aust said she contacted council members in the City of Salem, and received a reply from councilman Bill Jones.

“He said that the best recommendation he could give us is to form one voice,” Aust said. “I don’t want to speak about the city council in a negative way, but I’m hoping we can get more contact with them and get them to follow up.”

A petition was circulated among attendees to be signed and returned to Aust before the Monday night meeting. The group is in the midst of creating a Facebook group and plans to create a GoFundMe to cover attorney fees.

A public hearing before the Roanoke County Planning Session is set for Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. in the board meeting room of the Roanoke County Administration Center, followed by a public hearing before the board of supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the same location.

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