STAUNTON – Initial amendment rights, protests, budget negotiations and other talks have kept Staunton City Council on their toes over the past few months during its working sessions and regular meetings, and tonight will be no different.
If you’re looking for conversations to keep an eye on this evening at City Hall, here are three key topics on the table to keep track of for the upcoming meeting.
Modification of the memorandum
Mayor Andrea Oakes said May 5 that the city council would consider reforming the city memorandum, a set of guidelines and rules that the city council follows during its meetings and duties. The first discussion on the consideration of amendments to the Memorandum begins tonight, May 13th, with an important proposal.
The current city memorandum allows council members to attend meetings remotely only twice per calendar year, both in relation to personal matters and in relation to permanent or temporary disability or illness.
The amendment to the memorandum proposed at the council meeting would remove a limitation on remote viewing for council members with regard to temporary or permanent disabilities or illnesses. According to the city council’s agenda, the restriction of two remote meetings in personal matters remains the same.
“As recommended by the prosecutor, adopt the proposed changes to Council procedural note No. 3 to bring the current Council Directive on remote participation in line with the Freedom of Information Act,” the city administrator’s recommendation said on the agenda.
This item will be held during the working session on the budget, which starts at 5 p.m. The discussion about changes to the memorandum is expected to start at 6:40 p.m.
Convening the council
Councilor Terry Holmes urged the city council to consider this item on the agenda and to consider allowing the public to again attend the council meetings remotely.
The council came under pressure from both citizens and larger organizations after it decided to repeal the uncodified Emergency Ordinance on April 8, leaving the public unable to call and speak over the phone during public hearings. The decision raised questions about residents who physically couldn’t make it to meetings to speak at hearings or those who simply didn’t want to go to town hall to speak late at night.
More:The ACLU warns Staunton Mayor Oakes of possible violations of the 1st Amendment Act, Disabilities Act
The decision came with protests from local residents and a May 4 letter from the ACLU citing initial concerns about the change and the Disability Act that would prohibit citizens from attending meetings remotely.
While the proposal is being discussed, the Council does not have to take a decision at the upcoming Council meeting. “If the Council wishes to take action to restore remote public participation in Council meetings, an appropriate resolution or regulation can be prepared and submitted for consideration by the Council at its meeting on May 27, 2021,” reads the agenda.
The discussion on remote public participation will take place during the session of the working session which will begin this evening, May 13, at 5:00 p.m. According to the city council’s agenda, the conversation should begin at 6:55 p.m.
The business started
The regular meeting, which begins May 13 at 7:00 p.m., will include a plethora of public hearings on various zone and business inquiries. One that has caught the public’s attention is the 2040 W. Beverley St.
The area would consist of zones from B-2, the general business district zone, to I-1, a district dominated by light industry. The business lot was once home to CVS, Big Lots, and Family Dollar, but they’ve all moved out since, and the buildings are now vacant.
The plan is to re-zoning the area and converting it to self-storage units, but it’s not without concerns.
More:The Old Big Lots shopping center in Staunton’s West End could become storage units if redesignated
The staff reviewed the proposed projects and identified issues that need to be addressed, such as: B. an urban sewer system, which affects the placement of the storage facilities, the future prohibited commercial use of the property and the required landscaping.
“About three dozen residential lots adjoin the portion of the property that is subject to the reallocation requirement. Over half of those lots were developed with detached single-family homes,” the staff review said on the city’s agenda. “There are only a few natural barriers that separate the property from the adjacent residential properties and existing single-family homes.”
When the project was presented to the Planning Commission, it unanimously recommended that the proposal be rejected as it would not serve the interests of public need, convenience, or the common good.
A public hearing will be held at the upcoming meeting so that citizens can weigh up whether or not they want the area to be rededicated. The conversation was listed as item B during the regular city council meeting starting May 13 at 7:30 p.m.
For more information on upcoming and previous city council meetings, please visit ci.staunton.va.us/agendas-minutes.
More:Call Me Mayor: Email Exchange Reveals Malfunctions Between Councilors
More:Vote in elementary school on June 8th? Here’s what you need to know in Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro
More:Virginia begins COVID vaccinations for children ages 12-15
– Alison Cutler (she / she) is the Government Watchdog Reporter for The News Leader. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Contact Alison at a[email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ alisonjc2.
Comments are closed.