Saturday, December 3, 2022

Downtown parking and Prince George lighting: What’s on tap for the City Council meeting?

Williamsburg Economic Development Authority member Adam Steely is slated to make a presentation on a plan to install temporary lighting along Prince George Street. (WYDaily/Courtesy Williamsburg EDA)
City Council is slated approve or decline an authorization to install temporary lighting along Prince George Street Thursday. (WYDaily/Courtesy Williamsburg EDA)

With a City Council meeting right around the corner tomorrow, it’s helpful to know what’s coming up on the agenda.

City Council will meet for their regular monthly meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Stryker Center, and there are numerous items on the agenda, including a downtown parking ordinance, funding to put lights on Prince George Street, and ordinances regarding prostitution.

There will be two public hearings, one of which focuses on the downtown parking amendment. There are also five agenda items slated for a council vote.

Here’s the rundown on some agenda items:

Downtown parking

The meeting’s first public hearing will focus on a zoning ordinance amendment proposed for the Downtown parking district.

If approved, the amendment would further clarify the zoning ordinance for the parking district and require a special use permit for any removal of downtown parking. As it is, the ordinance implies removing parking spaces requires approval, according to agenda documents.

“The District was established to allow property owners the flexibility to redevelop their property or to change a business use in their building without having to provide for additional parking,” according to agenda documents.

In the district, each residential unit needs one parking space, and senior housing requires one parking space per two units.

In an agenda item summary, city staff said the amendment is needed “regardless of the outcome” for Colonial Williamsburg’s Goodwin Square, which proposed removing 40 or 48 parking spots in the P3 lot in favor of an outdoor green space.

On Monday, the city announced Colonial Williamsburg had withdrawn their application for the project.

On Nov. 14, the city Planning Commission recommended approval of the ordinance amendment.

Lighting on Prince George

City Council is also slated to decide whether to release $15,000 in funds to temporarily install lighting along Prince George Street.

If City Council agrees, City Manager Andrew Trivette will release the funds as part of the implementation of the Downtown Vibrancy Plan.

The temporary lighting is proposed for a portion of Prince George Street from Armistead Avenue to North Henry Street. It would include 14 potted evergreen plants with lights and lights in a tree at the intersection of North Boundary Street.

The lighting would be up until March 1, 2019.

Criminal blight, prostitution, massage parlors

There are three proposed ordinances under the “New Business” section of Thursday’s agenda relating to the Williamsburg Police Department.

The first item tackles the issue of “criminal blight.” The proposed ordinance would allow a locality to “abate nuisances” created by criminal blight on properties in the city.

Prompted by House Bill 594 that passed this year, “criminal” blight is defined as a condition that endangers the public health such as regular presence of people under the influence of controlled substances, illicit activities at a property like drug manufacturing or commercial sex acts, or repeated discharge of a firearm.

The code gives property owners a multiple-step notice to fix the blight before the city takes any abatement or legal action, according to agenda documents.

The second proposed ordinance would establish minimum operating standards for city massage parlors. Currently, the city requires massage parlors to be licensed by the Board of Nursing.

The minimum operating standards would prohibit operating outside of certain hours, as well as activities “relating to gambling, prostitution, sodomy, adultery, fornication, lewd and lascivious cohabitation or other laws relating to obscenity or moral turpitude.“

The final ordinance proposes updating the City Code section on prostitution and related offenses.

As written, the current code includes “limited” language on keeping or frequenting a “bawdy house,” according to agenda documents. The updates would add language to the code to address the “realities” of modern-day prostitution, such as using a vehicle to promote prostitution.

For the full agenda, visit the Williamsburg City Council agenda page.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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