Dueling petitions on Echo Harbor?

07/11/2009 1:24 PM by

Together We Stand, as part of their effort “to help make the Richmond Region the best possible place in the world to live, work and visit”, has a petition online showing support of the effort to preserve the view that named RIchmond. Reminiscent of the battle over Oakwood Heights, word has it that something of a counter-petition is being circulated in support of the proposed Echo Harbor development. All of this may come to a head Monday at the City Council meeting…

At the heart of the debate embodied by the dueling petitions is the ongoing conflict over Echo Harbor. The amendments as approved by the Planning Commission “allow buildings along the river to be a little taller than is currently allowed, but which is still approximately 2 stories shorter than the most recent Echo Harbor proposal. The Planning Commission also voted unanimously in stating that the city ‘had the power to preserve river views, specifically including the Libby Hill Park view, by limiting the height and mass of buildings”. (full list of amendments adopted by the City Planning Commission on May 4, 2009 PDF)

Monday evening City Council will vote on Ordinance 2009-117, “to approve an amendment to the Master Plan for the City of Richmond […] to adopt additional amendments” previously approved by the City Planning Commission. Adoption of these amendment will allow for implementation to begin on the Downtown Master Plan; a no vote will again reset the clock on the process and open the door to further changes to the document.

There has also been discussion about removing wording from one of the amendments (“the Character Area designation”), a change as described by ACORN would “negate” the Downtown Master Plan and which would be in “direct conflict with what Richmonders supported for the Downtown Master Plan”.

ACORN is supporting a vote by council in favor of passing the amendments as approved by the City Planning Commission, saying that, “any further amendment to the Downtown Master Plan will diminish the original intent of the Plan, which calls for a Riverfront with public access and protects significant sections while allowing for well- managed, strategically placed development”. The counter-petition, if it is as described, contains language in favor of wording favorable to the Echo Harbor proposal, citing the development as a benefit to the community (creation of jobs, increased tax base).

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