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Monthly Update July 2009

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Downtown Master Plan Amendments Final Vote

City Council hear citizen comment and vote on the amendments to the Downtown Master Plan at the Mon., July 27 meeting at 6:00pm.
 
You can view the amendments by clicking here.
 
The meeting will take place in City Council Chambers, 900 E. Broad Street.
DMPlogo 
Rails to Trails Meeting
There is a meeting to discuss the conversion of an abandoned rail line on Southside into a walking and biking trail that will be held Tuesday, July 28 at 5:00 PM at Southside Baptist Ministries, located at 5515 Bryce Lane (map).
 
Email Eli Wong to RSVP or for more information. 
Vacant Building Registry
The updated Vacant Building Registry is online and available to the public (click here).
 
The Division of Code Enforcement is hard at work to identify vacant and deteriorating properties across the City that supress property values and are hot spots for criminal activity. 
 
Their tenacity and employment of all the tools available, including court action, compel property-owners to repair or sell blighted properties and help clean up our neighborhoods!
Census 2010
Census 2010 
The Census is coming in 2010 and this year there are no long forms!
 
10 short questions only! Be sure you participate. 
Quick Links
CRS 
To report a property maintenance violation or to make a request, please use the Citizens' Request System.
Upcoming Meetings
Unless noted, all meetings take place in City Hall, 5th Floor Conf. Room.
 
Commission of Architectural Review
Mon., July 27
3:30pm
 
Downtown Master Plan Final Vote
 Mon., July 27
 6:00PM
City Hall
(see story above) 
 
Church Hill Area Rezoning
Thur., July 30
6:00 PM
East District Center (see story on right) 
  
Board of Zoning Appeals
Wed., August 5
11:00am
 
Urban Design Committee
Thur., Aug. 6
10:00 AM
 
 Planning Commission
Mon., Sept. 8
1:30pm
Quick Resources
 
Divisions
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Code Enforcement Wins Case Against Blight
A judge found one of the city's largest vacant property and blighted property-owners guilty on 16 violations on Thursday, July 16. The City's Code Enforcement squad has worked diligently in concert with the City Attorney's Office and the Police Department on this case.
 
Here is an excerpt from the Times-Dispatch article:
"Richmond General District Judge David Eugene Cheek Sr. found Oliver Lawrence guilty and told him to correct those violations that pose safety hazards by Aug. 14, the day Lawrence is to be sentenced.
 GraceSt
City officials said yesterday's convictions stemmed in part from three properties in downtown Richmond that are so damaged that one business owner calls the area "Little Baghdad."
 
Before yesterday, Lawrence already had been convicted of at least 152 misdemeanor property violations, fined $357,050 and sentenced to 270 days in jail, all suspended. Those charges stem from problems at more than 30 properties owned by Lawrence.
 
The fines and jail time were suspended as long as he doesn't commit further violations."

Code Enforcement Division served Lawrence with 152 "show cause" documents because they contend he has not met those conditions. The Show Cause documents officially notified him they will seek to demonstrate to the court that Lawrence should have to pay the previous fines and go to jail. That hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20.
 
Michael Paul Williams also penned a column on this issue that you can read here.
Church Hill Land Use & Rezoning Meeting July 30
In an effort to ensure continuity between the vision set forth in the City's Master Plan and zoning regulations, DCD staff has identified neighborhoods in which the present zoning would allow for development that is not compatible with the existing character of the community. 
 
A preliminary study of Church Hill has been completed and it is considered a potential candidate for alternate zoning regulations. Several public meetings have been held since the fall of 2007 to discuss the possible rezonings. 
 
Per residents' requests, this meeting will provide an opportunity for residents and property owners to discuss their concerns with staff in smaller working groups and assist staff with the creation of a modified rezoning proposal and, if necessary, a Master Plan amendment.
 
City planning staff wants to hear your views on housing and business development in the neighborhood and your hopes for the future. Your input will provide guidance toward possible changes to the Master Plan and zoning regulations for your community. 
 
WHAT: Public meeting to discuss future land use and the rezoning of properties within portions of Church Hill area.
WHEN: Thursday, July 30, 2009
TIME:6:00 PM
WHERE: East District Center, 701 N. 25th St.
Code Enforcement Helps Our Neighborhoods
This property located in the Fulton Hill area has been Carlisle1an eye sore to the citizens that lived around this structure and the case originally began due to the proactive vacant building inspection in May 2007.
 
The city issued a notice of violation and informed the owner that the exterior of the structure was in non compliance to the Uniform Statewide Building Code. The owner occupant appealed each notice of violation, but failed to appear for the appeals hearings. Finally, in May 2009, a summons was issued to the owner to appear in court.
 
Carlisle2The court case in June was continued to allow time for the owner to start making the repairs. By July 21st 2009 when this picture (left) was taken, the entire front of the building had been painted, new shutters were added and a new coat of paint applied to the roof.
 
Furthermore, the city attorney recommended an additional 90 days to abate the remaining violations, and full abatement is expected within that time when the house will no longer be a detriment to the neighborhood.
 
The City of Richmond encourages all property owners to maintain their properties as it benefits our neighborhoods, safety, property values, and quality of life.
Manchester Rezoning Meeting
On Saturday, June 27, the DCD staff hosted a public meeting on rezoning in Manchester. Director Rachel Flynn and more than a dozen staff members met at the Sacred Heart Center on Perry St. to discuss future zoning regulations with more than 70 residents, business owners, and interested citizens. 
 ManchesterRezoning
After a brief overview of the Downtown Plan, small group discussions were held to help narrow discussion on the broad development objectives within the Downtown Plan into specific recommendations on a block-by-block basis throughout Manchester.
 
That feedback and individual participant surveys gathered during the meeting will help shape recommendations for the rezoning. Areas of discussion included such items as character of development, intensity of development, use type, circulation patterns, parking, and view corridors.
 
Future meetings and community engagement are planned through the summer and fall of 2009 and anyone interested in becoming a part of the ongoing process or receiving updates on future meetings should email dcdnews@richmondgov.com or call 804-646-6310.
CAPS Team Meets with Arts Community
The Community Assisted Public Safety (CAPS) Team met with members of the arts community on Thursday, July 9 at the Visual Arts Center to discuss recent issues.

The 90-minute session was productive and educational as both sides gained better understanding of their concerns. The CAPS team was able to articulate how and why it operates and offered any assistance possible to small business owners in starting a business or making sure a current business is compliant. 
 
Members of the arts community asked frank and honest questions, and the open dialouge should help foster better communication on both ends in the future.
 
For information on starting a business, please see our guide on the department's web page.
"How to Create A Great Waterfront" Presentation
Local businessman Elliott M. Harrigan helped organize a recent session at Plant Zero with a the Project for Public Spaces to dicuss the best ways to create public places along the James River.
 
The Department of Community Development was happy to help organize and publicize the event as we prepare to initiate the process of developing a Riverfront Master Plan.
 RiverfrontMap
Attended by nearly 150 citizens, the forum covered 13 principles for creating a great urban waterfront, including the creation of public areas, connections with parks and trails, and pedestrian oriented uses.
 
Harrigan noted in an article in the Times-Dispatch that "attractive, appealing and successful waterfronts are those where the buildings are set back with public spaces. When it comes to real estate and real estate development, you only have one chance to do it right. If you make a mistake, you have to live with it for generations."
 
Click here to see some of the waterfront projects that Projects for Public Spaces has helped develop.