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Church Hill Association votes NO on Shockoe Center proposal

February 17, 2009 10:03 pm by

Two hundred or so residents turned out for the Church Hill Association meeting on Tuesday evening. The membership voted 62-44, with a handful of abstentions, against the Shockoe Center proposal. The main concern seemed to be the finances of the project, though mention was also made of the historic nature of the area of the development.

The meeting kicked off with typical but important community concerns. Newly appointed City Council 7th District representative Betty Squire stood and introduced herself. There was a discussion of proposed zoning changes across Church Hill and Union Hill. Information was shared about a proposed fee for security alarms (ordinance 2008-305), and there was a presentation from the Friends of Chimborazo Playground concerning their plans and a request for money. A representative from the 1st Precinct gave a short brief on crime in the area.

An update was given on the proposed Oakwood Heights condo development. The project, declined by CAR, recently passed the City Council’s land-use committee 3-0, and will be heading to City Council on February 23rd. The presenter said anyone opposed to the project should raise their voice and contact city council. She said that former City Council 7th District representative Delores McQuinn has apparently been working in support of the project, and has submitted several hundred signatures in favor of the project.

The meeting then moved onto the big draw for the evening: yay or nay on Shockoe Center, with much discussion about how to get there. A proposal to Not Vote at this meeting was voted down, and then there was a short discussion on whether or not to support Shockoe Center based on the information at hand. The membership voted 62-44, with a handful of abstentations against the Shockoe Center proposal. The main concern seemed to be the finances of the project, though mention was also made of the historic nature of the area of the development.

While the discussion was more civilized than much of the recent online dialogue, the evening did generate a hint of scandal: there were allegations that some of the evening’s new members had their dues paid by the developer or another interested party and had pledged to vote in favor of the development.

Though skewing older, wealthier, and whiter than the more broad “Church Hill”, the Church Hill Association has traditionally been taken as a bellwether for the opinion of area. It will be interesting to see if the other civic associations in the area reflect similar divisions. The Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association has voted in favor of the development, other special interest groups have come out both in favor and against the issue, and a recent poll on this site indicated strong support in area.


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