Restaurant planned for Red Barn on Rt. 11
By WILLIAM PAINE
At their meeting Monday night, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors heard of plans for the “Red Barn” on Route 11 between Pulaski and Dublin.
Restaurant owner Sergio Panuco’s rezoning request for the Red Barn property was one of two rezoning requests heard by supervisors.
Panuco requested that the zoning on his recently acquired property be changed from Agricultural to Commercial.
Panuco, owner of the Compadres restaurant in Pulaski, plans to open another restaurant at that Lee Highway location with seating capacity of up to 150 people. According to Pulaski County Zoning Administrator Markie Saunders, Panuco is working with VDOT to construct a safe entrance/exit area to the property, which is located near to the new Pulaski County Middle School. Saunders recommended that the zoning change be adopted and the supervisors agreed, voting unanimously to approve the zoning change.
“VDOT is working with us, saying we just need a wing-out lane and so we’re getting that together,” said Panuco. “To make it fully ready, we’re going to need six or seven months. We’re going to need more parking and a new kitchen. We’re definitely going to do something different. I don’t want people walking in and saying, ‘Oh, it’s still the Red Barn.’ I want to make it look nicer.”
Next, Steve and Kimberly Johnston requested that their property at 6469 Lee Highway, located in the Cloyd District, be rezoned from Low Density Residential to Agriculture. The Johnston’s made this request in order to grow more flowers on their property for their business Grace Bloom Farms. No one spoke in opposition to this change and the board unanimously passed the rezoning request.
Supervisors heard a presentation made by Kevin Byrd, the Executive Director of the New River Valley Regional Commission (NRVRC).
The NRVRC is an organization formed to encourage collaboration between the 13 localities and three higher education institutions in the New River Valley so as to address regionally significant issues. The NRVRC provides the means to coordinate federal, state and local efforts to resolve problems. The focus of Byrd’s update involved a recap of the NRVRC’s role in forming the NRV Public Health Task Force and its response to the COVID 19 pandemic.
As Byrd explained, the New River Valley was among the first in the state to offer drive through COVID testing, a General COVID-19 Call Center, as well as the first to implement a Regional Vaccine Call Center. Byrd noted that Pulaski, Giles, Montgomery and Floyd Counties and Radford City all contributed to the efforts to combat COVID by providing nearly $3 million of funding for testing equipment, masks, marketing, etc.
E.W. Harless came forward for the Citizen Comments portion of the agenda to express his concern regarding the excessive FOIA requests made to Pulaski County Administrators. Harless has stated that he will come to every meeting to divulge the latest FOIA request made by county resident Brenda Blackburn. Harless noted that the last FOIA filed by Blackburn contained five separate questions and was 81 pages in length. Harless said that he believed each FOIA should contain a single inquiry and that submitting these FOIAs is wasting taxpayers’ money by straining the resources of the county administration.
County Administrator Jonathan Sweet followed by saying that this same individual has filed 420 FOIA requests to Pulaski County.
“If you break it down to brass tacks, that’s one FOIA request a week, for eight years,” said Sweet. “I believe that is what Mr. Harless is referencing with his concerns for staff time for taxpayers.”
The supervisors passed an action item on the agenda which transfers ownership of the Vocational Building at the former Dublin Middle School from the school system to the county.
The ownership of the Dublin Middle school building and accompanying property had already been transferred to the county some months ago but the vocational building was not part of this transfer. On Monday, the supervisors voted unanimously to take ownership of the property but what it will be used for is still undetermined.
The county is working with private developers for repurposing Pulaski Middle School and Dublin Middle School into residential living spaces. However, the county will likely keep possession of the Dublin vocational school building and may well use it as a place for recreational sports clubs to meet.
“We’re evaluating the highest and best uses for that facility because it’s so perfectly located in the center of the county,” said Sweet. “It’s got a lot of open bays and a lot of natural light with a pretty expansive floor plan.”
For their last action, the supervisors declared that a state of Emergency now exists in Pulaski County due to “abnormally dry conditions, which create a high risk of wildfires.”
As such, there is now a ban on open burning on private property for the duration of the local emergency due to dry conditions creating a heightened risk of wildfire. This ban will remain in effect until conditions change. Violation of the burn ban is a Class 1 misdemeanor.