On Jan. 3, rock blasting began at the Meadows in Abingdon, Va., where a commercial center and public sports complex are being developed, despite persistent local opposition. The Meadows is a 70-acre historic property near Interstate 81 and is adjacent to the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34.3-mile rail trail that is used by hikers, bikers, runners and horseback riders.
In response to concerns over damage to possible graves on the property, in November 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed to follow a special procedure to evaluate the effects of the development.
Local grassroots nonprofit group Friends of Abingdon filed a lawsuit against the Abingdon Town Council in January 2016 over the rezoning of the site from agricultural to commercial. The lawsuit was dismissed by the Virginia Supreme Court, and in September 2017, the court refused the group’s petition for an appeal of the dismissal.
Friends of Abingdon formed to halt The Meadows’ development, citing environmental, historical, recreational and economic concerns. In addition to the lawsuit, the group supported two new town council members, who were elected in May 2016 to replace members who favored the development.
In December 2015, Food City purchased The Meadows with plans for a new commercial development and town-owned sports complex, which town officials had been discussing for more than 10 years.
— Hannah Gillespie