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South Norfolk Town Meeting held June 7, 2016
Following are responses to issues, grouped under headings, raised at the South Norfolk Town Meeting.
Resurfacing and Pothole Repairs
The Public Works Operations Manager reports that the City’s pavement management software program, IMS, uses a ranking system to prioritize all the streets in the City for the resurfacing schedule. IMS uses data obtained from individual street testing, which was completed spring 2015, to rank each street segment from 0-100, with 100 being in the best condition. Limited funding for resurfacing, approximately $4.5 million per year, only allows 30-40 street segments to be resurfaced each year; therefore, it is not possible to resurface all of the street segments with low rankings. Typically the majority of the resurfacing schedule is comprised of streets that are ranked in the 50’s and below, and were also found to be in poor condition when visually inspected. Most of the street segments in this subdivision are ranked low enough to be selected for resurfacing; however, the exact time when each will be selected is not known.
Everett Street is included on this fiscal year’s (16/17) resurfacing schedule. The next lowest ranked street in this subdivision is Railroad Avenue and will be considered for the 17/18 schedule, which will be put together next spring. All streets are re-evaluated yearly for the upcoming schedule and the Public Works will continue to monitor this subdivision for inclusion on future schedules.
Old Atlantic Avenue is currently on the 15/16 resurfacing schedule; however, it has not yet been completed. The streets not complete during the month of June will be added to the 16/17 schedule and completed as soon as possible.
The following streets were resurfaced in the West Munden community during the current 15/16 resurfacing schedule:
- Oliver Avenue from Atlantic Avenue to Myers Road
- Lyons Avenue from Myers Road to the North end
- Myers Road from East end to Oliver Avenue
- Myers Road from Oliver Avenue to Martin Avenue
- A section of Martin Avenue (from Strawberry Lane to Sheridan Avenue) is currently ranked low enough (47) and will be included on the 17/18 resurfacing schedule, to be finalized next spring.
Our maintenance crews have been aggressively patching potholes in the South Norfolk area for the past several weeks. Unfortunately, unfavorable weather conditions have presented challenges to these efforts. We will continue this operation throughout the summer months with hopes of improving the road conditions in this area.
Request for Park – Railroad Avenue
After review of the property located at 1022 and 1100 Railroad Avenue, it was found that these specific locations are privately owned and there is a great deal of wetlands that outline the nearby area. This particular property is not an appropriate site for park development at this time, and there are no surrounding sites available for this purpose.
Summer Youth Programs at the Dr. Clarence V. Cuffee Community Center
It was suggested programs covering topics such as life skills, career development, dream-building and anything to spark new interests be provided. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism currently partners with the YMCA during the summer to offer a low-cost all-day summer camp for 100 school-aged children, along with partnering with the libraries, CIBH and Community Services year-round to develop plans on how to best use all resources to best serve the community. Other programs that have been offered in the past include fitness classes, after-school programs, karate, dancing and gymnastics, for which there was little sustaining interest. The Stay & Play Program was offered in the 2015/2016 school year with only 1 participant signing up who later transferred to the local Boys and Girls Club. It should be noted that youth well utilize the center with 1,105 youth swiping in with their membership cards during May. Staff is actively searching for personal trainers to offer a personal training program. The Department is constantly looking to expand programs offered in order to serve the community and welcomes suggestions.
Closed Captioning for Council Meetings
The City of Chesapeake is working on bringing a closed captioning system for all televised public meetings. The City is about to release a request for proposal (RFP) within the next 30 - 45 days. After the request for proposal process is complete, we will have a timeline for implementing live captioning of all public meetings.
The City approved funding for closed captioning in the City’s budget for this fiscal year. In late 2015, we moved forward with locating a service company that could meet the unique challenges live government meetings present. We found that it was actually quite complicated, and almost all the companies we located could not meet our needs. For example, we have to be able to provide live closed captioning of the meetings that involve many different speakers. The companies that rely on automated voice recognition proved inadequate because so many different speakers with various accents made their service unreliable. And because of the legal nature of these proceeding, accuracy must be very reliable for all speakers. Accuracy was not the only obstacle we have faced in selecting a service company. All these companies are out-of-town. To meet the timeliness demands, several companies were eliminated because they required that we send them a copy of the meeting, and they would send back closed captioning a couple of days later. That is not acceptable.
Public Communications believes that it has identified at least one company that can meet the City’s needs, but we also have to comply with Virginia procurement regulations, which require us to solicit proposals from other companies. The next step is awarding the project contract to the company that best meets the requirements. If they are not the lowest cost proposal, we also must justify why we didn’t go with the low bidder. The City is now at the point that we are moving forward again with the RFP process. The City’s new budget, which begins July 1st, 2016, also has funding for implementing the service for the entire 2016-17 fiscal year.
1135 Bainbridge Boulevard
Concern was expressed about the decision by the Economic Development Department not to purchase the above referenced property. A Combined Phase I & II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) was finalized on July 7, 2014 for the potential acquisition of the commercial property located at 1135 Bainbridge Boulevard. The report revealed an unfavorable level of constituents and contamination that, in its current state, made the subject parcel inappropriate for public land use. Based on the potential cost of remediation and the legal liability associated with the site, the Economic Development Department decided not to purchase the subject parcel.
Concern was expressed that a business was allowed to locate on the site despite an unfavorable Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) study conducted in 2014 by the Department of Public Works. There is a major distinction between how an ESA affects an acquisition decision and issuance of commercial alteration permits. The ESA identified risks that factored in the City’s decision to not purchase the property. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is primarily the regulator of environmental matters. Their requirements for permitting/clean-up can be affected by the anticipated level of disturbance. DEQ requirements for an owner doing a complete redevelopment of the parcel could have significantly higher costs in site work to remediate/clean-up any conditions that exist. In the case of the Smoke Shack, the property owner requested permits to make renovations only and not to disturb the land on the site. The City’s permitting requirements for this type of work (commercial alteration) follow the guidelines of the International Building Code (IBC), which does not regulate the site’s environmental condition. The permits requested for the Smoke Shack met those requirements for the IBC and therefore were issued to the property owner.
Gateway Construction Site
This location has been cited in the past for grass beyond height limit, storage of debris and temporary construction yard without a permit. As a result of previous enforcement, the property owner sufficiently organized the construction yard and cut the grass. Staff re-inspected the location again on June 17, 2016 in response to the concern stated at the Town Meeting and did not find any new violations or evidence of a rat or rodent infestation.
Narrow Lots – Portlock Road
Plat research indicates the lots along the 2100 block of Portlock Road are part of the Wilmond Place subdivision. The lots along the 1700 block of Oliver Avenue are part of the Sheridan subdivision. Both subdivisions are zoned R-6 (Residential District) and were formed prior to the current zoning ordinance section regulating development of single family lots. In both subdivisions, the majority of the lots are at, or below 30 feet in width. While the width of these lots do not meet the current requirements on residential lots, they are lawfully nonconforming and are able to be developed with a single family home.
Concern for the relatively narrow, tall houses that were being constructed resulted in a text amendment to the Chesapeake Zoning Ordinance that went into effect February 6, 2006. This text amendment specified that lots within the R-6 district, which had been recorded with less than a 37 foot width, were adjacent to each other and under the same ownership would be merged into one lot, effective on the date of the text amendment. The result of this text amendment was the merger of smaller lots into a larger developable lot which reduced the probable number of narrow houses.
There were, however, many lots remaining within the R-6 districts that were less than 37 foot wide and were not adjacent to other commonly owned lots. These narrow lots were not affected by the text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance and are developable for a single family home. The lots in the two blocks referenced in the service request were researched, and it was determined they were developed properly. Furthermore, the lots were not owned in conjunction with other adjacent narrow lots when the text amendment was adopted and were, therefore, not merged. This resulted in the lawful development of the lots with single family homes. The concerns related to the height of the structures, front yard setbacks and parking were reviewed for compliance with the Ordinance when the building permits were issued for these locations. The Ordinance restricts height of dwellings in the R-6 district to 35 feet and requires a front yard setback to be the average of the existing dwellings on the same side of the street within 250 feet of the proposed structure to be built. In addition, the development criteria for this zoning district requires each dwelling have a minimum of 2 parking spaces. Staff reviewed the lots with the information provided herein and it was determined the homes were constructed in compliance with the applicable zoning requirements.
Request to Re-Open RR Crossing of Railroad Avenue and Franklin Street
The Public Works Traffic Engineer reports that the referenced crossings were closed as part of the Woodlake Drive improvement project. Multiple citizen information meetings were held for public input on the referenced project prior to City Council approval. Opening the crossings would be in violation of the City’s agreement with the Railroad.
The Economic Development Authority (EDA), along with the Economic Development Staff, is currently preparing an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Chesapeake. As a part of this plan, they are reviewing how to effectively market the South Norfolk area to increase development opportunities, including the amount of retail in South Norfolk. The two (2) major points of interest for retailers are traffic counts (vehicles per day) and daytime employment. While these numbers have increased over the last few years, South Norfolk is still lacking in both areas. By bringing additional employment opportunities, and through projects such as the 22nd Street Bridge Relocation, significant positive impact on these indicators can be invoked, and subsequently attract the necessary amenities for the area.
Inoperable Vehicles – Hamilton Street area
Concern was expressed about the number of inoperable vehicles on Hamilton Street that did not have proper license plates and/or registration in addition to vehicles with car covers. An inoperable motor vehicle is defined by City Ordinance Section 74-276 as a vehicle “which is not in operating condition, which for a period of 60 days or longer has been partially or totally dissembled by the removal of tires and wheels, the engine or other essential parts required for operation of the vehicle or which there are displayed neither valid license plates nor a valid inspection decal.” City Ordinance Section 74-278, provides if an inoperable vehicle is parked in residential area, it may be stored in a “fully enclosed building or structure,” or “fully shielded or screened from view” with a car cover. In addition, there shall be “no more than one inoperable motor vehicle shielded from view by a car cover” on a parcel of property.
The inspector located two properties that were storing a vehicle that met the definition of the City Ordinance. Notices of Violation were mailed to the respective property owners to correct the violations. The properties will be re-inspected for compliance on, or after. July 5, 2016. Failure to comply within the time frame provided will result in further legal action to compel compliance.
Concerns regarding Coal Ash
The Department of Environmental Quality will be hosting a series of public hearings relative to this topic in order to address citizen concerns. The first meeting was held June 16th at Tidewater Community College and the next two subsequent meetings are scheduled as follows: Thursday, July 7, 2016, City Council Chambers, 7 p.m. and Monday, July 11, 2016, City Council Chambers, 7 p.m.
Public Safety Concerns
Representatives from the Police Department have contacted all those that raised public safety issues at the Town Meeting. Officers have provided direct contact information and information regarding response procedures for drug related offenses, noise ordinance enforcement, suspected prostitution, speeding, abandoned and illegally parked cars,
Officers have been assigned to monitor the specific areas of concern enumerated at the meeting for illegal activity.
Speeding on Franklin Street
Officers from the Second Precinct and the Traffic Enforcement Unit have been assigned to monitor the area.
Speed Limit Evaluation – Seaboard Avenue
The City’s Traffic Engineer reports the speed limit along Seaboard Avenue is currently posted at 25 mph. A 25 mph speed limit is considered a safe and reasonable speed for residential streets. Traffic Engineering’s assessment of the operating conditions along Seaboard Avenue did not find any factors that would warrant a reduction in the current 25 mph posted speed limit.
“No Thru Trucks” Sign on Franklin Street
The City’s Traffic Engineer reports that he is in support of no thru trucks on Franklin Street. Public Works is currently comprising a list of additional streets to add to this list to be presented to City Council during the month of July.
An Animal Control Officer responded to the area and conducted an investigation.
Former South Norfolk Library Site
A suggestion was made to use the former South Norfolk Library building as a resource center where residents can go to research jobs and be provided with information regarding services and programs available in the community, to include space where children can play and engage with other youth in a positive manner in an effort to get them off the streets; as well as to move the Second Police Precinct from 22nd Street to the site.
There is no immediate plan to move the Second Precinct from 22nd Street to the location of the former library on Poindexter Street. However, the City is studying the space needs of its municipal facilities in South Norfolk and changes may be made in the future. Also, the Police Department is investigating the possibility of installing cameras on Poindexter Street.
The Department of Economic Development advises that the Economic Development Authority (EDA), along with the Economic Development Staff, is currently preparing an Economic Development Strategic Plan for the City of Chesapeake. As a part of this plan, they are reviewing how to effectively market the South Norfolk area, more specifically the former South Norfolk Library. The building is currently for sale and needs extensive work to bring it up to building code; thus, utilizing it in its current condition would not be feasible. The new South Norfolk Library currently has computer terminals dedicated to job seekers and job research. As well, there are several opportunities and programs for youth engagement and development during the summer through our Parks and Recreation Department, as well as outside programs such as the Boys and Girls Club currently located in Truitt Intermediate School. Staff recognizes the importance of child development as they are the future workforce for our current and prospective employers here in the City of Chesapeake.
The Department of Development and Permits, Code Compliance Division, does not have the staffing required to conduct a comprehensive sweep of the neighborhood, as requested. Additionally, the Department has had an abnormal level of inspector turnover resulting in high levels of vacancies. This has created a burden for other inspectors on staff to assist in areas of the City in addition to their assigned area until the vacancies have been filled. Once the Code Compliance Division has becomes fully staffed, the South Norfolk Historic District will have their one dedicated inspector for that area. This will provide the most intense inspector coverage of any other part of the City.
Specific locations and concerns in the area were provided to the inspector. The inspector conveyed that one location is currently under action and the other two locations will be inspected for any violations of the City’s maintenance and/or zoning ordinances.
Rental Properties and Code Compliance
Information was provided to the speaker on the process of rental inspections in the area, provided details on street sweeping services provided by Public Works, and information on how to report possible code violations to Code Compliance through the Customer Contact Center (382-CITY) or utilizing the City’s website.
Library policy does allow for patrons to use the Library’s resources, even with a blocked card (while making payments toward outstanding fees). The policy is scheduled for review and assessment within the coming fiscal year.
Water Service to Vance Level Community
The Vance Level development was approved in 2004 to be developed with City sewer service, but without City water. Public Utilities staff requested that water service be installed in the Vance Level subdivision. But we operate within established laws, ordinances, policies, and rules. One of these rules, the Four-Times Rule, states: “If the cost of extending public water and sewer facilities to the property exceeds four times the cost of alternative facilities, then public water and sewer are not required and the property owner may use alternative means such as wells and septic tanks.” The Vance Level subdivision calculation indicated that the City could not require the developer to install public water to and in the subdivision, and the developer chose not to do so. As a result, each property has a private well and fire protection is provided by connecting dry hydrants to the detention pond in the middle of the neighborhood. A later development extended a fire hydrant leg off of Elbow Road to the end of the cul-de-sac on McRowland Way, which now provides City fire protection to the northernmost portion of the Vance Level development and facilitates pumper truck refills in the event of a fire elsewhere in the development.
Installing City water in Vance Level is part of the proffer with the developer of the Albemarle River neighborhood further to the west on Butts Station Road. The proffer conditions require the developer to build the water lines to all Vance Level properties before the 150th lot in Albemarle River is recorded. As of May 25, 2016, 113 lots are recorded and 73 certificates of occupancy have been issued. It is not possible for the City to predict when the 150th lot will be recorded in Albemarle River, but homes are steadily being built and building permits for up to 55 homes may be issued per year. A total of 208 residential dwellings have been approved by the City Council to be built.
Since approval of Albemarle River plans, other developments, including Hailey’s Cove (under construction) and Greenbrier Station (under design) are installing some components of the water system on Butts Station Road that will ultimately serve Vance Level. These components will reduce the length of water line required to be installed by the Albemarle River development.
Owners in Vance Level will be required to meet all ordinance requirements regarding connecting to water lines and paying connection fees, as of the time when the water lines providing this service to the lots are accepted by the City.
If water is not installed by the Albemarle River developer as currently approved by ordinance, then the mechanism for Vance Level to get water in the future would be as follows, if current programs were employed without change. This community would become an unserved area. The procedure for obtaining water in an unserved area is established by the Cost Participation Program. Quickly summarized, as the policy is currently written the following steps must be met:
- A petition would have to be signed by 75% of the owners requesting City water be installed.
- 50% + 1 of the properties would have to pay connection fees (currently $3,697, which is the connection fee when the City installs the line vs. a developer).
- The City Council would have to approve and fund the project and establish a special taxing district.
- Owners would have to pay a special assessment of $2,600 per lot, payable over 20 years (this is in addition to the connection fee).
- Owners would be able to pay their connection fees over 20 years (owners who made up the 50% in the beginning would be able to apply for a refund).
- Unless the lot owner paid the connection fee and assessment in full, a lien would be placed on each lot for the balance due.
Council Member Motions
The question was raised as to whether Council Members shouldn’t be required, when they make a motion, either for approval or denial, to state the reason for the action before the vote. City Council follows Robert’s Rules of Order. When a motion is offered and properly seconded, it is the prerogative of the maker of the motion to clarify the action. If there is not a request from a Council Member for clarification, the Chair restates the motion and the vote is then recorded.
Additional Turn-Lane on Campostella Road
A request was made that a right turn-lane be added on Campostella Road at the Sunrise Avenue intersection. Public Works will evaluate the scope, cost and feasibility of adding the right turn, using the existing shoulder. Construction would be contingent on funding availability. It was also requested that additional lanes be constructed for exiting the Sunrise Hills subdivision. The main exit for the community is Sunrise Avenue. This street is currently configured with two outbound lanes at the signal with Campostella Road. Additional lanes are not warranted.
Flooding at the Intersection of Bainbridge Boulevard and Freeman Avenue
The City’s Assistant City Engineer reports that we have several drainage improvement projects in the South Norfolk area, including areas along Bainbridge Boulevard. The primary reason for flooding at the referenced location, however, is tidal, which is beyond the scope of our current drainage projects. The City will continue to seek appropriate grants that focus on tidal flooding.