Monday, January 30, 2023

City Council votes to require special use permit for this

On Thursday, City Council approved a zoning amendment requiring a special use permit for the removal of any parking spaces in the downtown parking district. Seen here, the parking district encompasses property on one side of Richmond Road, areas around Merchants Square, Scotland Street, Prince George Street, and more. (WYDaily/Courtesy City of Williamsburg)
On Thursday, City Council approved a zoning amendment requiring a special use permit for the removal of any parking spaces in the downtown parking district. Seen here, the parking district encompasses property on one side of Richmond Road, areas around Merchants Square, Scotland Street, Prince George Street, and more. (WYDaily/Courtesy City of Williamsburg)

City Council has added language to a Williamsburg zoning ordinance that will now require council approval for any reduction in downtown parking.

On Thursday, City Council approved a zoning amendment that would require a special use permit for the removal of any parking spaces in the downtown parking district.

Council members Doug Pons, Barbara Ramsey and Paul Freiling approved the amendment; Councilman Benming Zhang was absent and Councilman Ted Maslin abstained from the vote.

Before the amendment, the zoning ordinance included vague language requiring “approval” for removal of parking in the downtown district — although it did not specify who needed to give approval.

Pons suggested anyone, such as a property owner, could technically give approval for the removal of parking spots as the code was written.

The change was prompted at the recommendation of city staff, although the proposed amendment surfaced around the same time Colonial Williamsburg proposed removing 40 of 48 parking spots to make a green space in the P3 lot.

Colonial Williamsburg has since withdrawn their application for the project.

Planning Director Carolyn Murphy said any on-street removal of parking would also likely need to go through City Council. Road side parking is city property, and the ordinance revision covers private parking lots.

Murphy said the city has required residential property owners to have at least one parking spot per unit, although those spots do not necessarily have to be on the parcel.

Murphy added that about 40 or 50 parcels of land are in the downtown parking district, including William & Mary buildings, residential structures, businesses and restaurants.

While there was a public comment period on the agenda item, no residents chose to speak.

During the meeting, City Council also approved other items, including:

  • Releasing $15,000 to install temporary lighting and potted evergreen plants on Prince George Street. Vote: 4-0.
  • Three ordinances regarding the police department and city’s management and enforcement of criminal blight, massage parlors and prostitution. Vote: 4-0.
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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