7th District Town Hall meeting yesterday

07/22/2007 9:11 AM by

The 7th District Town Hall meeting hosted by Councilwoman Delores L. McQuinn yesterday at Asbury United Methodist Church touched on personnel changes at the 1st Precinct, the proposed zoning change for 1903 East Marshall, property tax relief for the elderly and disabled, and the idea of landlord licensure.

promotions at the 1st Precinct

As was previously reported, promotions within the Richmond Police Department have shaken up the 1st Precinct. Captain Keohane has been promoted to major and will now oversee the the 3rd and 4th Precincts. Stepping into the vacancy is Captain Gary Ladin, coming over from Sector 413. It was also announced that Lt.Hamlet Hood, long on point for Sector 113, has moved to the Special Inestigations Division. Taking his place will be Lt. Marty Harrison.

proposed zoning change for 1903 East Marshall

Fred Cox

Next up was a presentation by Fred Cox on the proposal to change the zoning on the empty lot at 1903 East Marshall. At issue is whether or not enough protection is in place to protect Jefferson Park from being dominated by development on the lot. The lot at the foor of the hill is currently zoned as M-1 (light industrial), which Mr.Cox explained would allow a building (such as a gymnasium) up to 80 feet tall. As the hill top park is 50-65 feet high, such a structure would definitely impact the view and experience of being in the park.

jefferson park_panorama_s.jpg

Mr.Cox would like to get the zoning changed to B-6, which would allow for a mix of residential and commercial use and would impose a 50 foot height limit on any development. Neighbors voiced concerns that the method of determining the height of a building, based on the mid-point of a pitched roof, would actually allow for a taller building. When asked if he would agree to a proffer clearly stating that no part of the structure would be taller than the park, Mr.Cox quicky accepted. It is important to get any such agreement written into the zoning, as many feel that it is likely that Mr.Cox will sell the property to another developer soon after the change in zoning is approved.

tax relief

After the scheduled presentations, Ms.McQuinn asked if there were any questions or concerns. One 86-year-old resident brought out a letter that she had received concerning the muddy situation regarding property tax relief for the elderly or disabled. Stories were shared about residents that have had to cash in insurance policies to pay the taxes on the homes, a cost that has risen sharply as assessment values have skyrocketed over the past few years.

It was explained that the money for the relief is available, but has been held back by Mayor Wilder in an attempt to kill the funding on other projects. When asked what a citizen could do to help get the money released, McQuinn encouraged folks to contact the Mayor’s office and make clear their opinion on the matter.

landlord licensure

After this, Charlie Field stated that he’d heard rumors about moves toward requiring landlord licensure. Mr.Field and Ms.McQuinn discussed the topic, with Field clearly against and McQuinn supportive. Field stated that it does not matter who is the owner of the building, that inspection and enforcement should be building-based. He told the story of an older neighbor who lived in a house that was falling apart around him, with a leaking roof and mold growing on the walls. The old furnace eventually failed and the neighbor got a kerosene heater; one night he accidentally burned himself up. This man, living in a property that was a danger to himself and others, was the homeowner. Fields also stated that this would become a point of centention between rentors and landlords, getting the inspectors caught up in petty fueds and disagreements.

Ms.McQuinn’s position is that inspection of rental property is necessary to protect the elderly and disadvantaged. She has introduced 2 papers on the subject (Ordinance 2007-96 and Ordinance 2007-86), which would create rental inspection district for the inspection of rental properties that are “blighted or in the process of deteriorating”.

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