‘So intrusive’: Libbie Avenue neighbors battle proposed law office

‘So intrusive’: Libbie Avenue neighbors battle proposed law office

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Neighbors in Richmond’s Libbie and Grove neighborhood are petitioning against a proposed law office, slated to go right in the middle of their block.

A home off of the 600 block of Libbie Avenue would be converted into the office space, with potentially paved spaces taking up the backyard. However, single family homes surround the house, except for Libbie Avenue which runs along the front of the home.

Some residents say they’ve been battling this proposal for nearly a year.

Neighbor Laith Alsamir lives two houses away from the proposed law office. He and his wife moved to the Westview neighborhood a year ago.

"It's been great so far," said Alsamir.

Alsamir says he moved to this section of the Libbie and Grove neighborhood for its family feel. He fears a law office would bring more car traffic, besides just not fitting in with the neighborhood.

"It becomes more traffic and noise for the rest of us," added Alsamir.

Alsamir and more than 45 other residents signed a petition against the project. Early plans called for at least three paved parking spots taking up the back yard, which some neighbors said would eat away at their green block.

Miranda Shaw has been a resident for 20 years and says she and the Westview Civic Association have been battling the owner’s request for a special use permit from the city with letters and emails.

"To keep it walkable… to keep it on a human scale… to keep a sense of place,” said Shaw.

Shaw says a law firm simply doesn’t fit into the neighborhood, and fears it would potentially cause congestion and disrupt its character.

“(The law office would be) so intrusive and doesn’t really contribute to the neighborhood in any way,” she said.

Another concern from neighbors is the possibility of increased traffic and keeping the neighborhood walkable, especially with a park right across the street from the proposed office.

“A lot of families come here and just try to have a good time, and enjoy the quiet, peacefulness of it,” continued Alsamir.

More businesses can be found further east down Libbie Avenue. Westview residents say they fear allowing this office will encourage more office or commercial type development to encroach on their side of Libbie Avenue.

“We’ve done many letters to the city,” said Shaw.

A representative for the property’s owner says the property will be kept in its current residential state with an extended driveway, and used for a small office similar to many of the other houses along the stretch.

The city’s planning department supports the project, saying they don’t believe it would put a burden on the neighborhood or create congestion.

City Councilman Andreas Addison, who represents the area, said he doesn’t support the home becoming an office.

A City Council vote scheduled for Tuesday evening was pushed back until February.

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