The Franklin County Planning Commission recommended a rezoning application for The Coves in Smith Mountain Lake on February 8, which will allow the development to reconfigure its existing lots and make its growing concert hall a more permanent addition. .

Since 2020, several concerts have taken place at The Coves featuring a variety of artists, each requiring a temporary permit. With rezoning, events at the site amphitheater would be permitted on a seasonal basis.

A reduction in setbacks was also requested as part of the rezoning to add additional space for multiple lots. Attorney George Vogel, who represented the development on Feb. 8, said the reduction was necessary because of the steepness of the lots in this section of the lake.

“Hopefully we can allay concerns that this isn’t a radical change from what The Coves is and what The Coves was originally intended to be,” Vogel said of the releases. changes to the development and the concert hall.

Several owners neighboring The Coves were present at the February 8 meeting and a majority spoke against the rezoning application at the public hearing. Most were concerned about the increased noise and traffic that concerts have created over the past two years.

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“Is this the right place for these concerts? asked neighboring owner Pete Kaufman. He said he should have the right to enjoy peace and quiet at home without the noise of nearby concerts.

Several residents commented that the concerts were too loud with noise carrying over the lake. John Soma, a resident of the nearby Boxwood Green development, said he couldn’t escape the music even inside his house and had to plan guest visits around the schedule of concerts so they don’t have to hear the noise.

Jay Shoffner, a nearby resident, said the sound from the concerts also carried to his home. “It’s good for them to have their gig, but when it comes to my house, that’s my business,” he said.

Franklin County Noise Ordinance limits sound to 67 decibels between 7 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. and 62 decibels from 11:31 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. Sound level is measured from the resident’s property line concerned, and not from the source of the noise.

Vogel said no concerts were scheduled past 10 p.m.

Shoffner also said the roads leading to the amphitheater were not designed for high spectator traffic. Vogel said in the rezoning application that maximum attendance for future concerts would be capped at 1,800 people, estimated at 900 vehicles.

Neighboring resident Peggy Everath disagreed with the traffic issues. She said she hadn’t seen any traffic problems from her home and had no problems with the concerts taking place there.

Lisa Lietz, Executive Director of SML Good Neighbors, also spoke briefly about the concerts held at The Coves. The non-profit organization is the venue’s current charity sponsor and raised $19,000 last year. She said the fund provided more than 5,800 meals to local children in need last year.

“I’m sad to hear from people who have been touched by negativity,” Lietz said.

With several comments from residents regarding noise from concerts, Union Hall representative Deborah Crawford said they would likely continue even if the rezoning was not approved by the county. They would simply continue as a temporary status that would require individual permits for each.

“If it doesn’t pass, gigs don’t go away,” Crawford said.

Crawford said The Coves is also helping expand the Union Hall area on the south side of the lake. “Not only do people want a grocery store, they also want a place where they can be entertained and The Coves provides that,” she said.

One of the most vocal opponents of the rezoning was Gills Creek Representative Cheryl Ege. She was the only member to vote against the rezoning.

Ege questioned the impact the rezoning and proposed changes would have on the community. Some concerns included a proposal in the rezoning to vacate a 30-foot preservation buffer zone surrounding The Coves development near the amphitheater as well as the elimination of setbacks on development lots.

Ege also said a traffic study should be carried out to gauge the impact of increased traffic before moving forward with the rezoning request.

In response, Vogel said the development had not received any complaints about the removal of the 30-foot preservation buffer zone from adjacent neighbors. He also said the elimination of setbacks was intended to reduce construction costs on steep terrain. The homes are selling for between $700,000 and $1 million and there is no intention to reduce their value, he said.

After discussion, the planning commission voted 7-1 with Ege the only vote against to recommend approval of the rezoning. The Franklin County Board of Supervisors will vote on the rezoning Feb. 15.

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