City Council Meeting – February 22, 2022

Citizen comments began with Eric Branch, who wanted to address a complaint that he filed in regards to a Chesterfield police officer totaling his Cadillac on July 17, 2021. He filed an official internal affairs complaint but claims that the Richmond Police Department did not conduct a proper investigation. Chief administrative officer Lincoln Saunders offered to follow up with Mr.Branch with the status of that investigation. Next was Jenny Dotts who spoke on the validity of a demolition permit of the 2nd Baptist Church. She claimed that the owner “has allowed his building to decay for 30 years and has not been cited with a code violation.” She continued to say that, “A man and owner of unsurpassed wealth” cannot afford to upkeep the building and so he wants to demolish. A number of citizens, including the vice president of Historic Richmond, also urged the council to pause the demolition of 2nd baptist church and spoke on the validity of the demolition permit which was issued some 30 years ago. The City Attorney then clarified that there was a difference between the permit and the certificate of appropriateness which does not have an expiration date. This is what is being used to release the hold that had been placed on the demolition permit and is the foundation for considering the demolition permit.

Next, the council heard oppositions to ordinances adopted on the agenda. First was Mr.Lavry who is against ORD.2021-365 which states,”To authorize the special use of the property known as 8 Rear South Plum Street for the purpose of a multifamily building containing up to four dwelling units, upon certain terms and conditions. (5th District).” He states that there is a big parking problem on cary street and that the construction of more housing would worsen the problem. Specifically, he thinks that it is not a good idea to allow higher density housing and as a result waive infrastructure laws. Following him was Caroline Masterson who spoke on ORD.2022-019 and claimed that there was no justification for the 70ft light poles that were put up in her neighborhood. She said that the light poles are unnecessary and scary to the residents in the neighborhood and therefore they should not be allowed. In regards to others speaking out against these light poles she stated that the St.Christopher school buys real estate and puts teachers and coaches in those homes to control the message to the public which is why she is speaking out. Next was a citizen against ORD.2021-371 which allows for speed cameras in the city of richmond. He urged council to not purchase the speed cameras because the grant money being used to buy the cameras could be used to better train and equip officers. Also, he claims that other cities with these cameras get “addicted to the revenue” brought in by such cameras. Next, Patricia Mayor raised concerns about housing units on Grove avenue. Her main concern was parking disruption which would be a result of new homes being built without adequate parking. Lastly, Jennifer Mullen with Roth Jackson spoke on behalf of St.Christopher’s school pertaining to ORD.2022-019. She said that the application the school submitted allows for light poles to better light the school’s field without disrupting the homes behind the poles. While the lights are permitted at a height of 35ft, the permit allows for additional height to be added while reducing the quantity of poles needed. 

On the regular agenda, ORD.2021-361 was discussed pertaining to a permit for signage for a starbucks and subway. The proposed sign would not meet state and federal guidelines for the highway exchange and so the application was denied. 

In closing, council members shared opinions on the fox elementary school fire and forwarded ordinances to the next council meeting.

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