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Indian River Town Meeting held June 6, 2017
Indian River Town Meeting Held June 6, 2017
The following are responses to issues, grouped under headings, raised at the Indian River Town Meeting.
Atlantic Coastal Pipeline/Southside Connector Distribution Project
Several citizens came forward with questions regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Southside Connector Distribution Project.
Virginia Natural Gas has two transmission/distribution pipelines planned to go through parts of Chesapeake. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline runs east/west from Suffolk to Military Hwy., east of the Elizabeth River. The Southside Connector Distribution Project runs north/south and will extend from Norfolk to Military Hwy., east of Bainbridge Blvd.
Neither project will require City Council approval for the location unless the pipeline crosses City property. There are other agencies that have oversight authority and they address issues including safety for these projects as follows:
Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Requires Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of the alignment. This project will require a 2232 review by the Planning Commission to confirm consistency with the City's Comprehensive Plan.
Southside Connector Distribution Project: The State Corporation Committee (SCC) is the governing authority for operations related to Virginia Natural Gas.
Citizens were encouraged to contact these agencies and bring their concerns, questions, and comments to their Senators and Congressmen.
Use of Clear Bags for Yard Waste
The Public Works Department has begun enforcement of the use of clear plastic bags for yard waste to reduce costs and highlight the separation of yard waste from regular household waste. The cost for disposal of regular household waste is higher than that of yard waste and the separation of these items generates cost savings for the City and increases efficiency in their waste collection.
Litter on Private Property
Currently, the City Code does not have an enforcement procedure for litter on private property; however, there is enforcement for debris. Debris can be an accumulation of litter that harbors snakes and rats, or which may be a fire menace or breeding place for mosquitos, give off obnoxious or offensive odors, or endanger the health or safety of the residents. Any debris on private property can be reported to the Customer Call Center via phone (757-382-CITY).
Additional Sidewalks in the Hoover Avenue Area
The City has several bike and pedestrian facility recommendations in the adopted 2050 Trails Plan for the South Norfolk area to include multi-use paths on Liberty Street and Campostella Road, bike lanes on Bainbridge Boulevard, and sidewalk improvements on Chesapeake Avenue. However, there are no current plans to install new sidewalks along Hoover Avenue. Many of the older residential streets in our City were constructed without sidewalks. Projects that have proposed to add sidewalks to existing streets have generally been found to be very costly and not always supported by many of the homeowners whose properties front the street. Because of the high costs associated with adding sidewalks along existing streets, new sidewalk projects have mainly been focused along streets that connect to activity centers and/or central locations where other existing facilities are provided that can serve the greatest number of pedestrians. The City's Trail Plan is the primary guide for planning new sidewalks and shows the future locations and the recommended type of facility.
Traffic Signs on Veterans Bridge (Dominion Boulevard)
Additional signs are not needed or required. The solid double line that is currently in place on the roadway is the standard pavement marking used to instruct motorists to remain in their respective lanes. The toll system, however, contains redundancy in the classification system and the license plate capture camera system. As a result, in the event a vehicle chooses to change lanes, all required information for the toll transaction is captured.
Speed Limit on Indian River Road
Traffic Engineering will conduct a roadway safety study to include a speed limit evaluation for Indian River Road. A complete report will be provided within the next sixty (60) days.
Additional Traffic Signal at Rokeby Avenue and Military Highway
A conceptual plan for the development of the Eastern Branch Trail/Bike Route has been reviewed by the Chesapeake Bicycle/Trails Committee. However, a development plan has to be adopted into the City's 2050 Master Trails Plan. If approved as an official project, consideration for a new traffic signal and the construction of additional bicycle facilities that will provide a continuous safe route will be included in the project planning.
The City of Chesapeake is actively engaged in preserving and enhancing its natural environment, mitigating the negative impacts of development, and moving towards a more sustainable future. The City's 2035 Comprehensive Plan, recently adopted in 2014 after extensive citizen input and engagement, contains several goals, objectives, and action strategies that guide land use decisions, programmatic and operational activities, and spending priorities related to environmental management and planning. Specifically, the Growth Management and Natural Resources sections of Chapter 2 of the Plan outline a variety of tools, programs, and activities that are currently underway or planned for the future. The Plan can be accessed at http://www.cityofchesapeake.net/government/City-Departments/Departments/Planning-Department/moving-forward-2035.htm
The City's Comprehensive Plan, which is intended to serve as a broad policy blueprint guiding Chesapeake's future development, is required by the Code of Virginia to be reviewed every five years, but it can be amended more often by City Council. In the interim, staff focuses on implementation of the Plan and conducting other planning studies, including transportation corridor plans and neighborhood plans. The Indian River area of the City has been identified in the Comprehensive Plan for development of a small area plan, which will include extensive community engagement. A definitive timeframe for this effort has not yet been determined and is dependent upon direction and funding provided by City Council.
Beyond the Comprehensive Plan's policies, the City has several ordinances in place that reduce the environmental impact of new development. The Zoning Ordinance generally limits uses that pose a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of citizens and the environment. The Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area District Ordinance restricts development within 100-feet of water bodies in the Bay watershed by requiring a vegetative buffer that limits surface runoff. The Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance and the Stormwater Management Ordinance work in tandem to limit and treat both the quantity and quality of stormwater discharged from a site during and after construction. The Landscape Ordinance requires new development to preserve or plant new trees, shrubs, and other plants to ensure adequate canopy over a site.
The City has engaged in a number of sustainability initiatives at the last decade, including implementation of a $2 million federal energy efficiency and conservation grant to address upgrades of municipal buildings, adoption of an ordinance encouraging that newly constructed municipal facilities adhere to LEED standards, and introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles in the City's vehicle fleet.
The City of Chesapeake is currently reviewing three separate applications for a conditional use permit that would allow for the development of utility-scale solar array energy generation facilities (solar farms) in the A-1, Agricultural, zoning district in August and September.
Currently, staff members are working on a report regarding solar farms and the varied issues surrounding these projects to assist our Council in making an informed decision about the impact of solar farms.
Indian River Study
The Moving Forward Chesapeake 2035 Comprehensive Plan contains a recommendation to study the Indian River Planning Area/Indian River Road-North Military Highway Corridors for specific land uses and strategic planning recommendations. This recommendation is found on page 44 of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, within Chapter Two - Responsible Growth and under Goal 1, Objective 5, which calls for the development of special area studies and plans to provide for the special needs and considerations of unique areas. With City Council's adoption last November of the Dominion Boulevard Corridor Study - another small area plan recommended under the Comprehensive Plan - the Planning Department will be able to study the Indian River Planning Area and its key transportation corridors pending Council's authorization of funding in Fiscal Year 2018/19.
During development of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, Planning staff met and corresponded with members of the Friends of Indian River group to discuss their concerns and aspirations for the area. Various recommendations from the group were incorporated into the Draft Plan that was submitted to City Council for adoption, such as: inclusion of Indian River Road as an example of an internal entryway that serves as a gateway to a distinct character district, commercial area, etc. (page 44); assessing and planning for improvement of the City's sub-watersheds (including the Indian River); exploring options for providing public waterfront access along the Indian River; and supporting efforts by the Friends of Indian River to preserve and restore the Indian River Park as a vital wildlife habitat, greenway, and recreational asset.
Sign on Indian River Road
A sign on Indian River Road was reported to be broken, dirty, and torn. Staff investigated the site and found the sign was a temporary sign and was not regulated by our current sign ordinance. The business owner did agree to repair the sign.
Potholes on Hoover Avenue
The report of potholes at the end of Hoover Avenue was investigated and the potholes were repaired by the staff of Public Works on June 13, 2017.
Paving at Intersection of Myers Road and Hoover Avenue
Public Works currently has a city project under design to address flooding at the comer of Myers Road and Hoover Avenue. Design is 50% complete and we anticipate the start of construction this fall. Pending completion of the project, subsequent paving will be scheduled for this location.
Public Swimming Pool
We realize that adding public swimming pools would be a significant addition to our community centers and for our City; however, there is no funding available at this time. The Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department’s approved capital funds have been limited to improving and refurbishing existing infrastructure and there is no approved funding in the City’s 5-year capital budget for a swimming facility at any community center or public facility. We are currently in the process of adding splash parks, which are water playgrounds, to two of our community centers within the next 12-18 months. The Department’s direction has been to renovate or replace existing facilities, such as aging playgrounds, athletic lights, tennis courts, fencing, shelters, and other dilapidated park amenities, as well as to install facility security systems and upgrades to make facilities more accessible. To build a new adequate community center with a pool could cost anywhere from $12 million to $17 million dollars with yearly operational costs of $1.2 million to $1.7 million dollars.
Portable Toilet for Indian River Park
The current portable toilet is centered in the middle of the many amenities within the park and it is secured against a fence next to the basketball courts. It is easily accessible and visible for all park goers. Visual modifications had been made with some fencing so that it is not noticeable from the road, as there were previous complaints from neighbors that it was an eyesore.
Request for Improvements to Plymouth Park
Citizen suggestions will be prioritized with other park improvements with recommendations for consideration in the upcoming budget.
A concern was brought forward regarding tunnel tolls and the cost to students of the local community colleges. There are no tunnels in Chesapeake so the citizen may be referring to the Elizabeth River Tunnels which are owned and operated by Elizabeth River Crossings. The City of Chesapeake has no control over those tolls. If the citizen is referring to tolls on the Dominion Boulevard Veterans Bridge, these tolls were set at the lowest possible rate for everyone who uses the bridge. The best way to pay the lowest toll rate is to have an E-ZPass. To get an E-ZPass, motorists can visit www.EZPassVA.com, call 1-877-762-7824, or visit any Chesapeake City Treasurer’s Office.
Personal Property Tax Assessment Appeal
Citizens can have their vehicle assessment reduced based on the condition such as body damage, mechanical damage, or excessive mileage any day during the year. There is a Vehicle Assessment Form available for our citizens to download and submit for review.
Ditch Maintenance in Norfolk HighlandsDitches in the Norfolk Highlands neighborhood are maintained as part of the Operations Ditch PM program. Norfolk Highlands is in the Washington area, and the ditch maintenance was completed for a 7-year cycle between March and May of 2016. Ditches in the neighborhood will be maintained according to the existing schedule.
Public Works has recently added several ditches in Norfolk Highlands to the maintenance schedule at the requests of residents there. We estimate the program to be in the Washington area during the fall of 2019 and winter of 2020. Meanwhile, Public Works will continue monitoring this area and perform ditch maintenance as needed.