Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oakwood Heights discussed at Richmond City Council February 23, 2009

Richmond, Virginia City Council meeting of Feb. 23, 2009. The topic of debate in this video was whether or not Council should override the Commission of Architectural Review's [CAR] denial of a "Certificate of Appropriateness" because of concerns with "massing" of a 33 unit condominium, known as Oakwood Heights, located at the end of East Broad Street in the Chimborazo Old and Historic District.

Here is a full record of the Council's discussion. At this meeting, Council President Graziano made the unusual request to suspend Council's Rules of Procedure, which normally allow 30 minutes for each side and allow citizens to be heard. There were many people to speak in support of upholding CAR's decision that were denied an opportunity to speak because President Graziano proposed setting a 15 minute time limit for each side.

Jim Hill, Richmond Department of Community Development and Secretary of the Commission of Architectural Review, began the discussion by reporting the conclusions of the Commission and the recommendations from city staff. Mr. Hill was peppered by questions from Council members throughout his presentation.

At [14:00] minutes, Mary Hunton, member of the Commission of Architectural Review [CAR], spoke and responded to questions from Council members. At [28:30] minutes Vice-Chair of CAR, Mimi Saddler, offered additional comments.

Comments in Support of Condominium Development

At [32:00] minutes, attorney Andy Condlin from Williams Mullen spoke on behalf of the developer, Margaret Freund of Fulton Hill Properties. Margaret Freund spoke on her own behalf beginning at [39:00] minutes, and followed by Rebecca Aarons-Sydnor, a green building consultant at [45:00] minutes.

Comments in Opposition to Condominium Development as proposed

James Thorsen representing Neighbors for Compatible Development began at 48:30 minutes, followed by Mastine Braswell, a 51 year resident of the neighborhood [52:42].
Bo Fairlamb, a former resident of the neighborhood and licensed architect, presented scale models of his house and of the Oakwood Heights Condominiums. David Herring, Director of the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods [ACORN] spoke [56:15], followed by Evelyn McCargo [58:40]. Comments from Deanna Lewis [59:30], John Johnson, President of Church Association [1:00:50], Kristen Hughes [1:02:18], and Mary Jane Massett Hogge finished the off the shortened 15 minute period afforded for citizen comments.

City Council "discussion" wrapped up with a question from Bruce Tyler [1:03:40] to President Graziano, Doug Conner in support [1:04:30], Reva Trammell [1:05:45] said she wanted a two week continuance and more discussion between the developer and the neighbors, Marty Jewell [1:07:45] said, "This is a tough one" then seemed to argue in support by said that the property was at the extreme end of the Historic District,

Council overrode CAR's recommendation on this matter by a vote of 8 with 1 abstention; Reva Trammell.

The same time limitation was applied to another matter considered that night, the installation of a salvaged cast iron fence and period style brackets above the front door at the home of Walter and Jennie Dotts, which CAR disapproved of because of concerns with "false historicism." Council also overrode CAR's recommendation on this matter by a vote of 8 to 1, Hilbert dissenting.

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