Lexington City Council considers proposed water tower development

By Graysen Doran 

The Lexington City Council will hear from people tonight about an unused water tower on Enfield Road that a developer wants to convert into apartments.   

Members of the council said they wanted to hear neighbors’ reactions to developer Edwin Gaskin’s plans to convert the tower into four multi-family units. He also wants to build at least four new single-family homes on the property. 

Rusty Ford, who has lived on Enfield Road for 68 years, said in an interview that he’s worried about how the tower could affect his land.  

“If it were to fall,” he said, “I don’t know how many million gallons of water … would fall on my property.” 

The tower sits next to a functioning water tank that still supplies Lexington with water, said Councilwoman Leslie Straughan. It will not be removed if the property is sold to Gaskin’s company, Enfield View, LLC. 

Council member David Sigler said City Council still needs to know more.  

The tower was built in the early 1900’s. 

Some locals have reservations about the project.  

Kary Smout, who has lived near the tower for 27 years, said he doesn’t want to lose access to the property.  

“I have walked [there] hundreds of times to get one of the best views in Rockbridge County,” he said. “I don’t want to lose this beautiful place.” 

Arne Glaeser, Lexington’s director of city’s Department of Planning and Development, said the converted property could raise the tax base in Lexington. 

Ford said City Council is intent on generating more tax revenue wherever it can find it.  

“It’s a win-win because they get rid of a loser property, and it gets converted into a revenue-enhancing property,” he said.   

City Council has been debating the water tower property over the past year. One suggestion involved a dog park. Concerns about the property’s safety thwarted the idea.  

Straughan said the slope of the property and the possibility of hitting rock when digging could cause issues during development.  

City Manager Noah Simon said he received Gaskin’s bid for the Enfield Road property last fall. 

If Gaskin’s project is approved tonight, he’ll put down a $5,000 deposit. He has 12 months to figure out whether his plan is feasible.