City Council Meeting – September 27, 2021

After going through appointments and reappointments, the meeting opened with citizen comments.

Shanice Jackson came to speak about police misconduct in urban areas of Richmond. She believes that the behavior of police officers is a violation of 4th amendment rights. There is a need for a civilian review board and she asks that officers who have a history of complaints be mandated to wear body cameras.

Robert Argabright came as an advocate for families in southside richmond. He attests to the positive impact that has been made there. In response, Council Vice President Robertson thanked him for his support.

Michael Joseph came in to discuss crime which he feels needs to be addressed. And “not just in Church Hill”. He felt like back when he was growing up, there were many programs where he learned about the consequences of drugs and crime, but those programs are no longer present.

After this, people were allowed to speak to the Council on any parts of the Consent Agenda that they disagreed with. Tammy came to speak about item 53, ordinance 2021-209. The ordinance is to “rezone the properties known as 2400 Afton Avenue and 2420 Afton Avenue from the R-53 Multifamily Residential District to the B-5 Central Business District (Conditional), under certain proffered conditions.” Tammy stated that she had worked over 30 years to clean up Afton Avenue. The area does not need tall buildings like the new apartment complex blocking light to all other one-story homes.

Afterward, the floor was left open for any citizens to speak of their support for any items on the consent agenda.

Tracy Paner is the chief public defender of Richmond. She was grateful for the council finally supporting defense attorneys. After all, prosecutors are supported by the state already, and given that the court is an adversarial system, the other side must be valued as well.

Charles Willis, the president of the Richmond Highway Civic Association spoke on his support of ORD 2021-209. He thanked councilwomen Tremmel and Robertson for their work. He spoke to the head of the initiative for the new apartment complex and asked him, Are these homes obtainable? Edward responded that one bedroom should be around 600 bucks. He asked, can senior citizens live there? Edward responded yes. Willis was pleased with these responses, and reminded the council that there is no doubt that Richmond has a homeless problem and that is because we have no homes to offer.

Edward Solarz, the man in question, came to speak. He is the director of development for Genesis Properties. He states that housing affordability is a crisis in Richmond. As such, he is offering places with affordable rent.

Joe works at a nursery school. There is also an elementary school nearby, and he feels like it is unsafe to load children and unload them because of traffic, and he is reaching out to councilwoman Jordan on this.

Patrick came to speak about item #3, ORD 2021-201, which asks to add speed bumps at parts of Seminary Avenue. He was able to collect many signatures for his petition to make this change.

A woman spoke on behalf of the Historic Jackson Ward Association in regards to Resolution 2021-R062 and 2021-r063. She asks for two things: to consider district overlay for Jackson Ward and to expand the historic district to include other areas and structures.

Councilwoman Lambert made comments on ORD 2021-20, saying that traffic safety is the most prevalent issue in the 3rd district. She is grateful for residents who gather petitions, like Patrick did, as well as getting support from local associations to help organize the resident opinions.

Councilwoman Trammell thanked citizens for ORD 2021-209, as she is proud to see all the development.

Councilwoman Lynch thanked the public defenders for all the important work they do.

Kevin J. Vonck as Director of the city’s Department of Planning and Development Review, came to give a presentation on the plans of item #49 & #50 (RES 2021-R070 & RES 2021-R071). The resolutions plans to “establish a height overlay district” for certain areas and to “rezone properties” within the same area.

In response, Councilman Jones felt it necessary to remind the council about the worries that zoning “is the new red-lining”. He wants to ensure that the rezoning is done fairly. Homeowners must be respected.

Councilwoman Trammell is happy that there’s any development. Other real estate companies say that the locations must get crime down first before they can build new property, but she is grateful that something is finally being done. More people are coming into Richmond looking for clean places to live, so she is pleased that steps are being taken.

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