Mar 30, 2010

CUP history in the making

by Amanda Sullivan

The original plans for Liberty University’s existence were slated to be carried out near the old Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) on Thomas Road. The university planned to buy the all the houses in the surrounding areas to build the college. However, many neighborhood residents were not receptive to the idea, causing the City of Lynchburg to place Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requirements on the church. TRBC was not able to expand, forcing Liberty to change its building strategy, which is how the university’s current location came about.

The decision to build on Candler’s Mountain was brought on because Liberty already owned farm property that surrounded the Carter Glass Mansion. The city zoned the property for heavy industrial use in 1977 without seeking approval from Liberty. In an effort to rebut the city’s rezoning decision, Liberty petitioned council to down zone the land. The vote passed 4-3 and the land was zoned a B-5 for commercial use, which allowed Liberty to grow at its own pace without having to seek approval from the city. Liberty was, however, required to seek permission to build expansions such as the Williams Football Stadium and the Vines Center as both projects increased the traffic flow on Wards Road. The CUP for those projects included three highway ramps, which resulted in $2 million in construction fees.

Liberty’s growth was squelched when the city council secretly voted to change the zoning ordinance in 1991. The change required that colleges with more than 100 students be required to acquire a CUP for all expansions. Liberty was the only college with more than 100 students located in a B-5 district at the time of the change.

Since that time, Liberty has paid millions in CUP requirements.

Contact Amanda Sullivan at

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