City Council Meeting Preview - October 13, 2014

This will be the first meeting of Richmond City Council since the abrupt resignation of Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall in September (see here for a breakdown of what the CAO does).

The Stadium

Mayor Dwight Jones has not made any substantial moves on his plans to build a new baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom since he retreated from his last attempt in May in the face of strong opposition from City Council. In this meeting, several resolutions being considered demonstrate that a majority of Council appears ready to move forward on development on Boulevard and in Shockoe Bottom without Jones.

Res. No. 2014-R180

This resolution would express Council's support for the Shockoe Economic Revitalization Strategy. Drafted by the City in 2011, the plan involved more than $70 million in infrastructure improvements to the Shockoe Bottom area, but notably had no mention of a baseball stadium in the area.

Res. No. 2014-R181

This resolution would request that the mayor seek the participation of Richmond's surrounding counties (Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover) in constructing a new baseball stadium for the city. All three counties have distanced themselves from any plan to fund or support a new stadium, leaving Richmond to go it alone.

Res. No. 2014-R184

This resolution would request that the CAO seek developers for work on city-owned land on Boulevard, and declare the Council will not approve any plans to develop the land until this has taken place. Boulevard is the location of the Diamond, Richmond's current baseball stadium, as well as a large vehicle-maintenance facility. Mayor Jones' Shockoe stadium plan turns on freeing up that land on Boulevard for commercial development. In essence, this resolution would force the mayor to examine the viability of Boulevard development before Council would sign off any stadium plan.

Res. No. 2014-R156

This resolution would express support for the City's Economic Development Authority to acquire more than a dozen properties in Shockoe Bottom to use for some kind of commercial development. If this plan proceeded, it would in effect undercut the mayor's plan. Read more about it here (http://www.timesdispatch.com/special-section/sports/baseball-in-richmond/baliles-city-should-buy-key-shockoe-properties/article_9828e993-b3bb-5c2c-94d9-c30c8070ac96.html).

Real Estate Tax - Ord. No. 2014-178 & 2014-179

Would lower the city's real estate tax $0.01 to $1.19 per $100 assessed value. One of these ordinances is patroned by Mayor Jones, who has come out in favor of giving Richmond residents a tax break.

Ord. No. 2014-180

Alternatively, this ordinance would keep Richmond's real estate tax unchanged at $1.20 per $100 assessed value. Council must vote to hold the tax rate unchanged since property assessments have risen within city limits, meaning the city government will take in more money in taxes next year if the rate stays the same. (See the meeting wrap-up post [link] for a breakdown of the numbers).

Later Hours for The Camel - Ord. No. 2014-94

This ordinance would allow the The Camel, located at 1619 and 1621 West Broad Street, to stay open until 2 a.m. every day of the week. After a July hearing, the Richmond Planning Commission recommended granting The Camel a one-year permit to stay open later, on the condition that the popular venue gets its noise violations under control. Its presence on the meeting's Consent Agenda reflects its likelihood of passing without controversy.

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