- Development, Land Use & Construction
- City Council
- City Budget
- Property Information
Indian River Town Meeting held September 6, 2011
Following are responses to issues, grouped under headings, raised at the Indian River Town Meeting.
Property Maintenance Code Enforcement
The Department of Development and Permits’ staffing level does not allow for code enforcement of communities by inspectors routinely patrolling the City. Citizen initiated service requests have taken the majority of staff’s enforcement capacity. The Department has established specific citizen inquiries as its top priority. It is recommended that citizens report any specific locations that they feel warrant investigation. If during the course of a specific request, other locations are observed by the inspector, additional action will be taken.
Code enforcement staff has visited specific addresses that were provided during the Town Meeting. When violations were found (dumpster located for extended period of time, inoperable vehicles, etc.), property owners were cited and given 10 days to correct the violation. Legal actions will be initiated to compel compliance if violations are not resolved. There are numerous properties in the area that are under action.
Assistance for Property Maintenance
The Chesapeake Redevelopment and Housing Authority can be contacted at 523-0401. The Authority adminsters programs that may be able to assist a property owner with the expense of maintaining property. These programs have eligibility requirements.
The Office of Neighborhood Coordination may be contacted at 382-6456. They have information on volunteer programs such as World Changers, that annually provide property maintenance services to low income property owners.
Conversion of Single Family Homes to Multi-Family Homes
Norfolk Highlands is predominately zoned R-10S, R-8S, and R-6. Converstion of a home in these districts to multi-family units, or a duplex would not be permitted. Any structure reported to have been converted to multi-family within these zoning districts will be investigated for conforming status and pursued for correction if a violation of the code is found. Lawful non-conforming units, those lawfully converted to multifamily prior to the adoption of the code that would prohibit the converstion, would be allowed to remain.
Duplexes are only permitted to be located in the R-10 and the multi-family districts. multi-family development, including apartments and condominiums, are permitted in the R-MF-1 and R-MF-2 districts.
Indian River Shopping Center
The Department of Economic Development is working with the Katsias Company and other real estate firms to identify appropriate tenants for the Indian River Shopping Center (IRSC). A broker and Economic Development have identified a grocer that has expressed an initial interest in locating at the center. The company is still in the process of comparing locations to determine if the IRSC offers the best attributes for their business model.
Economic Development has also notified the Katsias Company of various complaints regarding the physical condition of the IRSC, and encouraged the owner of the property to consider physical improvements that will add to the “curb appeal” of the property. We have indicated to the owner that the improvements will likely enable more desirable tenants at the Center and potentially increase rents. Additionally Economic Development has notified the Zoning Administrator of the potential code violations and the Zoning Administrator has sent an Inspector to the property on occasion.
Request for Speed Bump on Linden Avenue
Traffic Engineering staff has completed the speed study on Linden Avenue. The result of the study showed that the average speed on Linden Avenue was 20.2 mph and the 85th percentile speed was 25.9 mph. The City's traffic calming program requires the average speed to be 30 mph or more to qualify. In addition, the City does not install speed bumps on City streets. An offer has been made to provide "Respect Our Neighborhood, Don't Speed" signs to post along the right-of-way.
Request for Speed Bump on Oaklette Drive
The results of a speed study performed in February 2010 did not reveal a level of speeding that would warrant the installation of speed humps. Specifically, the Traffic Calming Program requires the average speed of motorists on a residential street to be at least 30 MPH; however, our speed study found the average speed in this area to be only 26 MPH. As such we determine that speed bumps would not be considered for Oaklette Drive. Staff offered to provide "Respect Our Neighborhood" signs that can be placed in homeowner's yards adjacent to the roadway.
Officers were directed to run radar and to look for drunk drivers in this area when possible during their shifts. Additionally, the Precinct Community Contact Officer and Traffic Enforcement Section have been tasked to conduct extra patrols in the Norfolk Highlands area.
A speed survey was conducted on Myrtle Avenue, Hazel Avenue, Lilac Avenue, Cornick Avenue, and Laurel Avenue, over the past one-and-a-half years, utilizing a speed registering device that is used to monitor traffic complaints. Each of the speed surveys indicated a low enforcement rating with only a very minimum number exceeding a speed that a summons could be issued. A new speed survey is currently in place on Rokeby Avenue.
Officers were directed to run radar on Lilac Avenue when they have time during their shifts. The Precinct Community Contact Officer and the Traffic Enforcement Section have been tasked to conduct extra patrols on the street and cross streets.
Improvements on Military Highway
Military Highway Improvements from Bainbridge Boulevard to the Virginia Beach city line are identified in the city’s unfunded Capital Improvement Budget program as a $45.5 million project. The segment from Allison Drive to the east city line is priority nine on Chesapeake’s Transportation Priorities for Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) urban program funding. Funding, when available, will be applied to the projects identified in priority order.
Lack of Sidewalks on Indian River Road and Sparrow Road
The concern was the lack of sidewalk/pedestrian access along Military Highway from Campostella Road East to the Virginia Beach City line. There is no safe pedestrian access to various public transit facilities, businesses, and the Chesapeake Care Free Clinic. The staff engineer provides that the estimated cost to add a 5’ sidewalk along the north side of Military Highway will be $3.5 million. To install a 10’ multiuse trail at the same location will cost an estimated $6.35 million. Such a project will have to compete with other transportation projects for funding.
Repaving of Myrtle Avenue
The City uses a pavement management software (IMS), a ranking system, to prioritize all the streets in the City for the resurfacing schedule. Myrtle Avenue, from Indian River Road to the south end, is divided into two segments with current rankings of 87 and 41 (100 being in the best condition). Limited funding ($2.5 - $3.0 million) for resurfacing only allows approximately 20-30 street segments to be resurfaced each year. It is not financially possible to resurface all of the street segments that need to be resurfaced. While these segments of Myrtle Avenue are not included in this year’s resurfacing schedule, one segment does have a low ranking. Staff will monitor the condition of this segment and it will be reevaluated for next year’s schedule. The list of street segments for this fiscal year’s resurfacing schedule (July 2011- June 2012) has already been evaluated and can be seen on the City’s website.
Gutter Repair on Indian River Road
The City’s Streets and Highways Administrator reports that a City crew is scheduled to repair the curb and gutter on the north side of Indian River Road during by the end of September/early October, weather permitting.
Ditch Maintenance at Oleander Ave.
A City crew is scheduled to remove the tree from the ditch and perform ditch maintenance in the 1300 block of Oleander Ave. the week of November 7, 2011, weather permitting. City crews are scheduled to re-grade the roadside ditch from 1428 Oleander Avenue to the outfall during the week of October 17, 2011, weather permitting.
Tree Removal and Ditch Maintenance on Lilac Avenue
City’s Stormwater Administrator reports that the tree will be removed by September 23, weather permitting. Ditch maintenance work is scheduled to start during the week of November 14, 2011, weather permitting.
Water Ponding at Oaklette Drive
As a result of an onsite meeting, a crew graded a section of the shoulder area which should improve drainage.
Police Patrol Coverage in Indian River
The Second Precinct is close to all the areas it serves. It is important to understand that officers normally do not respond to a call from the Precinct, but rather, they are generally driving in the community when a call for service is dispatched. Officers’ response times are fairly consistent throughout the City.
Chickens in Residential Area
During the Town Meeting, a petition was submitted to allow chickens to be raised in residential districts. The Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance does not permit chickens within the residential districts with the exception of the RE-1, residential estate district, where four or fewer hens can be kept in a pen.
There are several impacts associated with keeping chickens that may have contributed to the policy restricting the keeping of chickens in the residential districts. Some of them include the following:
- Chickens can be loud. Roosters are typically associated with the noise impacts from chickens. Hens, however, can be very loud also. When an egg is laid, the hens produce a prolonged cackling that can rival the rooster’s crow.
- Chickens produce large amounts of waste that can be the cause of obnoxious odors.
- The grain fed to the chickens and resulting waste can draw rodents.
- Chickens can be difficult to contain. If they are released from confinement to forage for insects and vegetation, common residential fences will not keep them in the intended yard.
- Chickens are commonly targets of other domesticated animals commonly kept in residential areas. Dogs and cats may see the chickens as prey.
Residential neighborhoods are typically densely populated areas. The above referenced impacts of keeping chickens will be intensified within a neighborhood. These impacts, as well as others that could arise, were likely evaluated when the current policy was codified in the zoning ordinance.
Personal Property Taxes
The personal property tax is expected to provide $69.8 million to the General Fund for City and School operations for FY 2011-12. $41.2 million of this amount is actual payments from citizens with the balance derived from the State personal property tax relief program. $69.8 million represents 14.4% of the entire General Fund budget. The only single larger source of revenue to the General Fund is real estate tax which provides $227.5 million (46.6%) of the General Fund revenue. To put this in perspective, the General Fund budget for our major departments is as follows:
(in Millions of Dollars)
|Community Services Board||$5.7|
|Parks & Recreation||$2.9|
|Public Works||$27.5 (excludes State fund for road maintenance)|
|Schools Operation - City Resources||$169.6|
These data clearly show that, absent increases in other revenue sources, entire programs or departments would need to be deleted to achieve a balanced budget if the personal property tax was eliminated.
Local government exists to provide services to its citizens. The levy of taxes and fees are the mechanism established to pay for the provision of those services which the governing body, with input from the citizens, deem are needed. In addition, the federal and state governments impose various mandates upon local governments for provision of certain services. While some of these mandates include funding from the federal or state government, many require local funding. Article X of the Constitution of Virginia reserves the power to tax real estate and tangible personal property for local governments.
The personal property tax is one of a set of taxes and fees which the State Code allows local governments to levy to support the costs of local government operations. Section 46.2-752 of the Code of Virginia expands this by providing that “counties, cities, and towns may levy and assess taxes and charge license fees on motor vehicles, trailers, and semi-trailers.”
Local governing bodies strive to balance the variety of taxes and fees levied upon citizens to ensure that the burden does not fall disproportionately upon one group of residents or businesses. Since the personal property tax is tied to the value of motor vehicles, it lessens the burden on persons who have less expensive vehicles while requiring larger payments from those with more expensive vehicles and multiple vehicles.
The City Council of Chesapeake encourages citizen input into deliberations regarding the annual operating budget of the City. The balancing of service needs with estimated revenues available to fund the needs of our citizens is a major task of the government each year.
Aqua Virginia, now called Aqua America, is a private water company with approximately 450 customers in Chesapeake. The company has the sole franchise to serve these customers. As such, the City has no jurisdiction over the operations of Aqua America.
Oversight of this company is provided by the Virginia Department of Health, which has a local Office of Drinking Water – phone number: 757-683-2000.
Condition of the Sanitary Sewer at Laurel and Cobb Avenues
At the intersection of Laurel and Cobb, the sewer main is too deep for City equipment, and Public Utilities has been managing the cave-in for quite some time by filling the sunken area with crusher run stone. The depth and complexity of the repair called for an outside contractor to handle and the job was put out to bid. The bid was recently awarded and work began on Friday, September 9, 2011. The pipe has been repaired, and final restoration work is scheduled to be complete by the end of September.
There are other areas along Cobb Avenue with minor cave-ins. These will be monitored by Public Utilities and sunken areas filled with crusher run stone along the shoulder or asphalt in the paved areas. The entire system is being evaluated for sanitary sewer rehabilitation, but if a cave-in begins to affect the proper operation of the sewer or creates a potential hazard prior to a rehabilitation project, additional point repairs similar to the repair at Laurel and Cobb may need to occur. Public Utilities will continue to monitor the area.
Loss of Electricity at School Building
Over the years Schools has attempted, as funding permits, to install emergency generators in schools. Generators have been installed at those schools identified by the City to serve as emergency shelters. Additionally, as the school system built new schools and/or renovated existing schools, generators were installed. Although Schools has significantly increased the number of schools with generators over the past decade, there are still schools which are not equipped with them. Norfolk Highlands is one such school. Given the cost of approximately $100,000 to install a generator, the ability to provide all schools with generators is limited at this time. Norfolk Highlands Primary School does, however, have emergency battery backup lights which will operate for a period of time when there is a power failure, permitting students and staff to safely navigate the school.
As to the possibility of food spoilage during a power outage, the School System has a standard protocol in place which addressed extended power loss and the potential for food to spoil. Should school refrigerators/freezers lose power and the contents threatened, School Nutrition Services picks up the food and takes it to refrigerators and freezers located at the Schools’ central warehouses until such time as the power is restored.
Possible Closing of Dominion CEC Power Plant
The closure of the Dominion CEC Power Plant is a proposed component of a broader long-range plan for Dominion Resources. Until the final plan is completed, we will not know if the closure is certain and if the projected date is 2016. If the closure of the Dominion CEC Power Plant in Chesapeake is moved forward by Dominion, we will work to ensure the closure would address any environmental issues so that the site might be repurposed for other economically beneficial activities. Waterfront sites are valuable assets as a part of overall waterfront / port activities throughout Hampton Roads. Our Economic Development staff will work to bring businesses to the City at this or other sites to help offset the estimated $4.7 million in taxes related to the Dominion facility.
Odor at Rokeby Ave. and Providence Rd.
The gravity sewer system in this area was washed on September 9, 2011. The sewer manhole was found to be normal; however, a disinfectant was introduced as a precaution. The pump station for this area was inspected and found to be operating normally.
Trash Collection Services for Townhouses
Townhome communities can receive automated containers; however, the following must be met and all residents would be converted to automated collection. It cannot be partial.
The community must be represented by a Homeowners or Property Owners Association or Civic League and a signed petition of at least 90% of the homeowners in the community must agree, in writing, that they want the automated containers. The City must have funds available at the time of the request. If not, the project would have to be budgeted for in a future fiscal year.
The reason for these requirements is to insure that the vast majority of the community is in agreement since many of the interior townhomes have access problems from the back yard to the street and/or storage problems with the containers. Recycling containers, which are smaller than the brown trash containers, were issued to all residents in Chesapeake. The difference is that if a citizen has issues with handling the recycling bin, it can be removed from the property since participation in recycling is not mandatory.
In January 2012, new regulations may sallow storage of the containers in the front of townhouse units subject to screening requirements and approval of the Homeowners or Property Owners Association. In addition, smaller trash containers (64 gallons, as opposed to 96 gallons) may be available.
South Norfolk Library
The new South Norfolk Memorial Library will encompass 17,000 sq. ft. in the Gateway building, approximately the same size as the stand alone library design, and the exact number of square feet that was specified as needed in the Capital Projects Plan. The primary public space will encompass all of the first floor of the Gateway building, with the exception of the optician office that is located in the comer, giving the library an imposing and high visibility profile from the street. The space has wonderful natural lighting around the perimeter of the room and the shade from the awnings prevents glare issues with computer users. The first floor also offers us the opportunity to have a public drive-up book return and checkout in the circulation room which will be the first in the system. This will be a great convenience for everyone in inclement weather and for people with small children or mobility issues.
The Library plans will feature the system's first full service cafe in the front of the building opening out into an extended outside seating area with umbrellas adjacent to the heron fountain. The indoor and outdoor cafe seating spaces will all be Wi-fi accessible and serve as part of the extended library seating areas. The library recently acquired, at a fraction of the retail cost, the commercial cafe and interior furniture and fixtures of the Border's Cafe and Bookstore on Laskin Road in Virginia Beach that recently closed, which will make all of these amenities both affordable and high end. This acquisition includes wood shelving and commercial appliances with all of the fixtures needed to open a first full scale coffee and cafe establishment. The positioning of the cafe in the front glass curve of the building will give the 2,000 sq. ft. space a high visibility.
The new library design will also incorporate a history room that will provide a quiet study area and interactive community history experiences. There will also be some small rooms for quiet study and tutoring. The Library is launching an initiative to reinvent the children's spaces into vibrant, interactive early learning centers, and this library will be a showcase for exciting new approach to children's services. We are also working on incorporating an electric fireplace and living room space similar to our original plan that will provide a comfortable and pleasant seating area. Throughout the library the architects will be able to create an inviting and exciting library using the new wood shelving and display fixtures, rich colors, and dramatic lighting.
Technology and workforce development assistance will continue to be a prime consideration, and the space will include expanded seating for laptop users and public computers with high speed broadband Wi-fi access and printing available to users. The design will also include spaces for one-on-one assistance to job seekers by library staff, volunteers, and the VEC. Office equipment for job seekers and business people including faxing, notary, and printing capabilities will be included on an adjacent counter.
Approximately 3,000 SF will be on the second floor and will be used for the large public programming room and a second classroom/programming room, and probably a small kitchen to serve these spaces. The smaller meeting room will also be outfitted with video conferencing equipment for use by teachers or the business community. These rooms will be available for use even when the library is closed when arrangements are made because they will be accessible through an outside entrance and the elevator or stairwell adjacent to the parking lot.
The Gateway project owners committed 50 dedicated on-site parking spaces for library users which is identical to the number of spaces that were designed for the stand alone building.
The anticipated opening is late next summer or early fall, although that could be modified depending on how the project unfolds. However, the architect is already at work, and the City was able to retain the same architectural firm that designed the stand alone building, and they will work to capture many of the elements that made the library unique in the original design.
South Norfolk Partial Real Estate Tax Exemption Ordinance Status
An ordinance that allows for a partial real estate tax exemption in the South Norfolk Revitalization District was first contemplated and discussed during the June 21, 2011 Council meeting and subsequently adopted August 9, 2011. This ordinance gives local homeowners located in this district the ability to rehabilitate, renovate or replace the principal dwelling unit and realize the allowed exemption. The ordinance includes criteria for remaining in the program and is applied over a ten year tax exempt period.
Following the adoption of the ordinance, a work group consisting of staff from the Real Estate, Information Technology, Treasurer’s Office and Development and Permits has been convened to develop the internal mechanisms to administer the ordinance. The development of several processes is required which include verification of the ordinance criteria, creation of the application forms and modification to the City’s real estate database and TIF tax calculation program.
It is important to ensure we have an accurate method to electronically track the allowable tax exemption and that the property owner has the accurate exemption included on their real estate tax records. This requires significant programming by the Information Technology Department. It is estimated the programming process will be complete and ready for implementation by the end of the year or first part of 2012. However, the work group will pursue the development of an application and process to be available as soon as possible (October sometime) and develop a manual record system until the programming is complete. This dual approach will allow us to apply the exemption earlier while the programming is in a "catch up" mode. The work group will provide an interim report in mid-October to detail progress and accomplished tasks.
Prior to the implementation of the program, City staff will work with Public Communications, Bureau of Community Programs, IT and other applicable departments to publicize and inform the public of the start date and benefits to the program. The use of the City’s web site, Channel 48 and other similar venues will be considered and applied.