History and Purpose of FOA
Friends of Abingdon, Inc. (FOA), is an independent, grass-roots, not-for-profit organization, incorporated in Virginia on December 2, 2015, following its informal formation a few months earlier. FOA’s initial purpose was to oppose the Town of Abingdon’s imminent rezoning of some 30 acres of the historic and scenic Meadows farm to allow construction of a major shopping center there. A Town sports complex was proposed for the 40.74 acres that lie between the commercial development and the initial segment of the scenic and economically crucial Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail. FOA also contends that creation of a sports complex is not the highest and best use of that parcel. Developments of these kinds would be contrary to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and would seriously damage the Trail’s viewshed. The proposed commercial development would be out-of-scale and would create very serious traffic and other local issues. It would also compete with existing Abingdon businesses and would certainly exacerbate existing-shopping-center morbidity. The Town of Abingdon contends that the new shopping center would be a key source of revenue, but FOA knows of no benefit-cost study assessing the net economic impacts of the proposed retail development or of the projected sports facility.
As it rapidly became apparent to FOA that the process of planning, rezoning, and contracting undertaken by the Town of Abingdon had been seriously flawed, FOA expanded its mission to work for more transparent, participatory Town governance and land-use planning and to rectify improper actions that the Town has taken, both in connection with this issue and in general. FOA works toward these ends by monitoring local government actions, disseminating relevant information to the public and to the media, seeking administrative and judicial remedies, and serving as a resource in the electoral process (see Town Governance and Project Documents).