Environmental and Cultural Actions

Environmental & Cultural Actions

Implementation Activities

Strategic Initiative: Investing in Critical Amenities ...such as natural resources, entertainment attractions, cultural organizations, recreational opportunities, and a well-designed cityscape.

Created Arts endowment;  Portion of transient occupancy tax revenue earmarked for CVB; Major investments in greenway/trail development.

EC A1. Establish funding mechanisms to implement park plans (Phase II & Phase III) and greenways plan in a timely manner.

Bond funding used to implement park plans and greenways.  TA funds.  Regional Surface Transportation Act (RSTP) funding has become the primary funding source for greenway construction.

EC A2. Encourage regional cooperation to develop and manage parks and recreation facilities that serve multiple jurisdictions (e.g., large recreation centers and aquatic centers). Conduct an assessment of the parks and the recreational needs of the region and consider the formation of a Regional Park Authority.

P&R continues partnership with Roanoke County and City of Salem to bring national softball tournaments and other activities to the region.  A regional Therapeutic Recreation Needs Assessment was completed (2006).  Greenway planning is regional.  Parks & Recreation master plans address regional cooperation 


A3. Consider establishing appropriate user fees for recreation facilities.

Pricing policy established

EC A4. Develop strategies that encourage development of the Roanoke River Greenway for the entire length of the Roanoke River within the City limits.

The segment of the Roanoke River Greenway located in the City is either constructed or funded for construction.

EC A5. Establish weekend bus service between downtown and natural resource destinations such as Explore Park, Carvins Cove, and the Appalachian Trail.

No known activity.

EC A6. Increase funding to accelerate construction of the greenway network.

Bond funding used to implement park plans and greenways.  TA funds funded.  Regional Surface Transportation Act (RSTP) funding has become the primary funding source for greenway construction.

EC A7. Promote trails on City-owned land, where feasible and suitable.

Natural trails available at Carvin’s Cove, Mill Mountain, Shrine Hill/Fishburn Park, and Countryside.

EC A8. Promote and increase access to trails and natural areas by providing parking, guide maps, and appropriate marking.

Interactive trail map online; trailhead parking areas developed; wayfinding signage installed 

EC A9. Develop a viewshed protection ordinance and seek regional approaches.

City approach is to purchase and preserve mountainous areas rather than develop a specific ordinance:  City purchased a 52-acre parcel adjacent to Mill Mountain Parkway; City adopted the Mill Mountain Management Plan; City developed a management plan for Carvins Cove; implemented conservation easement and recreation plan.   The 2005 zoning code created Recreation & Open Space district and rezoned parks and city-owned riparian areas to ROS.

EC A10. Encourage reduced light pollution from development, particularly in residential neighborhoods, by improving development or ordinances.

2005 zoning code addresses light pollution to the fullest extent permitted by state enabling legislation.

EC A11. Adopt zoning regulations that address communication towers to minimize their visual impact.

Adopted a Wireless Telecommunication Facility Policy 2003 and appropriate zoning code to implement the policy.  Updated in 2017.

EC A12. Protect Blue Ridge Parkway corridors adjacent to City limits through coordination with adjacent localities and careful planning.

Public and private efforts to preserve corridors:

Southern Hills Plan identifies permanent conservation areas near parkway. City-owned property (much of land adjacent to parkway) zoned Recreation & Open Space (2005).  Rockydale Quarries committed to a land preservation easement adjacent to the Mill Mountain Parkway Spur (2004).  City purchased a 52-acre parcel adjacent to Mill Mountain Parkway.  

EC A13. Limit the amount of impervious surfaces to reduce runoff.

Zoning code requires pervious paving systems where maximum parking limit is exceeded, and establishes tree canopy requirements for parking lots (2005).  River & Creek Corridor overlay limits creation of impervious surfaces along stream banks (2005). (Trailhead parking in Wasena Park demonstrates use of pervious pavement)

Planning staff actively encourages limits on impervious surfaces during rezoning process. 

Stormwater management code requires runoff reductions for redevelopment projects, which decreases impervious surfaces.  Projects must also address water quality for impervious surfaces.

Stormwater Utility Fee is based on impervious surface, providing a financial incentive to limit such surfaces.  Fee is due on all property, even if it is exempt from Real Estate taxes.

EC A14. Plant natural vegetation, preferably indigenous plant species, on land adjacent to the Roanoke River.

Roanoke River Flood Reduction Project bench cuts restored with native grasses and other indigenous species.   River and Creek Corridor zoning overlay district requires a 50 foot riparian buffer along the Roanoke River and its tributaries.

A15. Ensure integrity of the stormwater and wastewater systems.

Established a Stormwater Utility, managed by a Stormwater Management Division to provide a steady source of funding for addressing stormwater quantity and quality. 

Stormwater management codes require new development to manage the runoff rate and quality of water released from sites.

VPDES permit specifies actions including infiltration/inflow programs; utility line upgrades; Clean Valley Council program to stencil storm drain inlets; Approved VPDES Phase II Stormwater Management Plan (Plan).  Stormwater system mapping, street sweeping, inspections of stormwater management structures, and public awareness/participation are all key aspects of the program.

Dry weather surveys performed to identify illicit discharges and/or connections.

Implementation of new web-hosted database for tracking and recording activities under the City’s VPDES Plan and new Illicit Discharge Detection and Notice of Violation protocols (2009).

EC A16. Protect and stabilize creek banks by controlling storm water flow and preventing discharge through vegetative buffers, bioengineering, and other related methods.

City has an approved VPDES Phase II Stormwater Management Plan to improve stormwater quality. MS-4 storm drains have been mapped.

River & Creek Corridor overlay requires vegetated buffers (2005).

Stormwater management code fully implemented

Creek stabilization projects in city parks completed.  Countryside master plan recommends stream restoration and establishment of vegetative buffer areas along Lick Run; Similar recommendation in Evans Spring Plan.

EC A17. Protect the shorelines of the Roanoke River to enhance their scenic quality and protect water quality through a river conservation overlay and other appropriate tools.

River & Creek Corridor overlay district requires a 50' buffer from stream or river banks where vegetation must be preserved/replaced.

P&R developing river maintenance program with support from OEM to unify current education efforts already performed through OEM, the WVWA, and P&R; organize improved cleanup efforts within the banks of the City’s river and streams; and improve maintenance levels on public property.  P&R worked with DEQ to install 20 pet waste stations in parks along the Roanoke River and Murray Run and is working with DEQ to install 20 more.

2 part-time Maintenance Technician I positions added to Parks operating budget to maintain river free of debris, undesirable vegetation and trash/litter.

Stormwater management code fully implemented

EC A18. Promote programs that raise awareness and reduce air pollution through testing, education, incentives, transit, and other related policies.

Roanoke has entered into an Early Action Compact (EAC) with surrounding localities and the EPA (2003) to successfully reduce ozone levels to meet 85 ppb standard (2007).  Standard lowered to 75 ppb with unofficial levels from summer 2008 at 74 ppb (2008).

The City joined ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability (2006) and added a 10% reduction in tax rate for energy efficient buildings to further reduce emissions and energy use.  Over 20 buildings have used the tax incentive.

Smart Way bus service to Blacksburg reduces individual commutes (over 3,000 passenger trips per month).

Bike racks are placed at City parking decks.

Implemented preventative maintenance programs in City facilities to decrease pollution.

City has several hybrid vehicles as part of the City’s fleet and is using bio-diesel fuel (started 2006).  Two electric vehicles added to the fleet and 2-minute idling policy for non-essential uses for all vehicles instituted (2009).

Library special programs and books are now linked in the library’s database and are searchable by clean and green, special clean and green labels are added to these books.

EC A19. Consider use of clean-burning fuels to enhance air quality.

Dual-fuel compatible vehicles are being purchased by Fleet Management as part of the vehicle replacement program and City is using biodiesel fuel.  City has acquired several hybrid vehicles.  P&R is using and increasing use of propane-fueled mowers.

 EC A20. Establish tree canopy goals that include standards for preservation and planting of native trees based on zoning district and density.

Urban Forestry Plan established a canopy goal of 40% by 2013; new zoning ordinance expands tree planting standards and establishes minimum tree canopy requirements. Urban Forestry planted 708 trees in FY04, 500 trees in FY05 and 500 trees in FY06. Williamson Road Area Plan identifies urban forestry opportunities. Approximately 1,500 tree seedlings were planted in Fishburn, Thrasher, and Fallon Parks in 2006.  Due to increases in costs, the number of trees planted in the most recent years dropped to 400.

The city met its 40% tree canopy goal, due in part through better remote sensing capability.

EC A21. Develop a comprehensive regional marketing strategy that promotes Roanoke as an outdoors destination (Blue Ridge Parkway, Carvins Cove, mountains, trails, on-road bike routes, Virginia Birding Trail, Mill Mountain, etc.).

Convention & Visitors Bureau has published an Outdoor Guide with updates and distribution focused on line (2007) with revised print version for 2008.  Web-sites will advertise availability of guide.  Branding initiative ($300,000 in funding provided for city's share). P&R assumed primary land-steward role for a major portion of the Carvins Cove Natural Reserve July 1, 2004.

New signage and design program complete with marketing plan to be developed.

Roanoke Regional Partnership established “Roanoke Outdoors” for outdoor/adventure destinations in the region.  Economic Development continues to assist in marketing efforts.

EC A22. Expand walking and driving tours of historic and cultural resources.

DRI works with the RV Preservation Foundation to conduct conference tours of downtown historic and cultural resources. Downtown Living Tour, Old Southwest Parlor Tour and Garden Tour, Art by Night, Raleigh Court Walking Tour brochure. DRI is partnering with the Arts Council and galleries on an updated Art by Night guide of 13 galleries.

Arts and Cultural Plan contains recommendations for marketing and developing cultural resources at city, regional and neighborhood levels.

EC A23. Develop a stable source of funding from regional resources for cultural, historic, and recreation amenities such as a Blue Ridge Asset District.

City Council established the Percent-for-Art Program to provide consistent funding for public art. One percent of the cost of eligible capital improvement projects (up to $100,000 per project) will be used to fund public art.  ED has added a Public Arts Coordinator position and a Public Art Plan has been adopted (2006).  Program to install temporary public art works across the City implemented and “People Pride and Promise” sculpture dedicated at the Civic Center as part of the City’s 125 anniversary (2008)

Arts and Cultural plan addresses sustainability and funding of organizations. Arts endowment established as a result.

EC A24. Develop a local funding strategy for environmental programs, conservation easements, and cultural programs.

P&R has investigated a funding plan that will involve grants, business support, scholarships, and partnerships.

River maintenance program (Regional cooperation)

Through the EDA, Brownfield Revolving Loan Funds are available to owners of eligible brownfield properties.  In October 2009, the EDA approved a $200,000 grant for the Roanoke Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society to help restore the former Virginian passenger railway station.

EC A25. Develop entertainment venues for concerts on Mill Mountain and other open areas.

Action on Mill Mountain venue unlikely.   Amphitheater developed in Elmwood Park

EC A26. Undertake a comprehensive inventory of historic and cultural properties and districts in the City and consider historic districts, where applicable. Solicit neighborhood and stakeholder input in the inventory, where applicable.

Since the listing of the Southwest, Warehouse, and City Market historic districts, Roanoke has implemented a systematic program to survey and nominate all eligible historic districts throughout Roanoke, adding 13 additional districts:  Downtown, Henry Street, Norfolk and Western Railway, Grandin Village, Gainsboro, Salem Avenue Automotive, Wasena, Downtown (expansion), Melrose-Rugby, River and Railroad, Riverland/Walnut Hill, Belmont (Nomination pending).

Preservation Plan promotes education and outreach and identify additional inventory needs (2009).

$60,000 CDBG funds committed to historic sites and structures survey.  Inventory project was implemented in Wasena using $25,000 of the CDBG funds, General Funds, and other funding sources. 

EC A27. Promote local, state, and federal incentives to include tax credits to encourage rehabilitation of historic structures.

Basic summary of rehab incentives developed and actively promoted including revisions to Enterprise Zone and tax abatement programs (2005).  Roanoke is one of the most active areas in Virginia in terms of the use of historic tax credit programs.

Second Renovate Roanoke fair held (2008).  Workshops, seminars and vendors focused on preserving and restoring older homes..

Workshops and marketing materials are continuously advertised to promote Enterprise Zone program, for rehabilitating structures.  The Façade Grant program, affecting a majority of historic downtown property, was targeted in specialized promotion in Fall 2009.

Economic Development developed new marketing materials for promoting all programs (2011)

EC A28. Revise zoning regulations to better address the placement of billboards in Roanoke and regulate maintenance of existing ones.

Zoning Ordinance amended to address issue of spacing.

EC A29. Work with conservation organizations to identify critical open space or sensitive environmental properties and pursue the purchase of conservation easements.

City purchased a 52-acre parcel adjacent to Mill Mountain Parkway and identified sensitive environments on Mill Mtn as part of the Mill Mountain Land Use Plan. Management plan developed for Carvins Cove (2008) that includes placement of substantial conservation easements (initial 2008 and expanded in 2009).
Conservation easement for Carvin’s Cove (2008 & 2009), Kegley Farm implemented by private owners (2008), and Mill Mountain recorded (2010).

EC A30. Encourage preservation of open space and farm land through appropriate land use programs.

Zoning ordinance remapped large portions of open space/recreational land from residential districts to the new Recreation Open Space district.  Retained Residential Agricultural district (2005). 

City Council adopted definition of “park” in May 2005 to define purposes and appropriate uses of parks, and add various City-owned lands to the park system.

See above re conservation easements