Lynchburg planners got a bird’s eye view of Liberty University on Tuesday, heading up Candlers Mountain as part of a four-hour presentation on the school’s expansion plans.
LU is seeking to rezone 237 acres along the mountain’s base as part of its goal of growing to 15,000 students within the next five years.
The Lynchburg Planning Commission, which is currently reviewing the request, asked to get a first-hand look at the targeted development site as part of its deliberations.
The presentation started with nearly two hours of discussion between the two sides on many of the plan’s details, including traffic alleviation and environmental protection.
LU administrators outlined the multi-tiered approach being taken to reduce the number of students driving to and around campus. Those included expanding the school’s partnership with the public bus system, implementing a carpool program and moving forward with vehicular tunnels that will allow university-bound cars to circumvent Wards Road.
That latter project will likely be complete by this time next year.
The school then offered a tour of some of its project sites, including Candlers Mountain, where it hopes to build athletic fields, new dormitories and a ski slope.
The project will likely be taken to at least one more work session before any recommendation is made to City Council.
LU officials themselves remain in opposition to a higher standard on waterway protection proposed by city planners.
The school has been asked to mitigate any waterway damage inflicted during construction by paying for equivalent improvements within the same watershed.
Mitigation is a requirement of both state and federal law, but the university is not obligated to stick to the same watershed.