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City Council to consider firearm ban, $27M in bonds
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City Council to consider firearm ban, $27M in bonds

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Tonsler Park

DAILY PROGRESS FILE

A proposed ordinance would ban firearms in Charlottesville parks, buildings and recreational or community centers.

Charlottesville City Council is taking a third, and possibly final, swing at an ordinance to prohibit guns in city facilities and properties.

The council will conduct a third reading of the proposed ordinance during its meeting Tuesday.

The ordinance does not require a public hearing, but speakers can discuss it during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The council delayed adoption of the ordinance during its Aug. 17 meeting to further craft specifics.

The ordinance would bar firearms in city parks, buildings and recreational or community centers. It also would prohibit guns on public streets or in the right-of-way adjacent to a city park that is being used for a permitted event.

At the council’s last meeting, Mayor Nikuyah Walker also asked for additional safeguards for a provision allowing inoperable firearms at special events. The updated ordinance requires any inoperable firearm used for a special event to be inspected by a city official.

Violation of the ordinance would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $2,500.

The proposal includes exemptions for sworn law enforcement and activities of the Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. Licensed and armed security officers of the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services who are providing security to a special event would be exempt from the ordinance during the event.

The ordinance allows the city to implement security measures, such as metal detectors, to prevent “unauthorized access” of city properties with a weapon.

The ordinance does not apply to public housing units or public parking garages.

The measure is proposed to take effect Oct. 1 to give the city time to install signage.

Bonds

In other business, the council will hold a public hearing on issuing $27 million in bonds.

The city regularly issues bonds to fund its Capital Improvement Program. The bonds will be repaid over 20 years.

Nearly half of the money, $12.5 million, will go toward utility projects to improve water, wastewater and stormwater systems.

Of the remaining money, about $4.9 million will go toward public facilities projects.

The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will receive $4.5 million to support the first phase of its massive redevelopment of the city’s public housing stock.

Public schools projects are earmarked to receive $2.2 million; transportation projects will get $1.9 million; public safety will receive $1.2 million; and parks and recreation will receive $351,000.

Artful Lodger

The council also will revisit a tabled special-use permit request for a proposed high-rise on the Downtown Mall.

Heirloom Development is requesting a 101-foot-tall, mixed-use building. The council deferred action on the permit when it was considered in December over concerns for the character of the mall and affordability.

Developer Jeff Levien needs a permit to increase the allowable height and density for the project from 70 feet and 24 units to 101 feet and 134 units.

The proposed structure would sit on Market Street on the current site of The Artful Lodger, The Livery and other small businesses. If a building permit is approved, the existing buildings will be demolished.

Since December, Heirloom has proposed several conditions for the permit.

The first condition would create setbacks from adjacent streets on the upper levels of the building.

The second condition promises eight affordable units either on-site or off-site. Four would be for those making 80% of the area median income. Two would be for those at 60% and two would be at 50%. Six of the units would be affordable for eight years and two would be affordable for 16 years.

The final condition provides rental benefits for a proposed community space. The space would be available to a nonprofit “whose primary mission is to further financial literacy, job creation, or business growth for the Black community of Charlottesville,” a staff report says.

The space would be at least 700 square feet and come with a base rent rate at 50% of the market rate for at least five years.

In other business, the council is expected to vote to extend its virtual meeting ordinance by six months.

The City Council typically meets on the first and third Monday of each month. However, its first meeting in September will be on a Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday.

The meeting will be held virtually at 6:30 p.m. To register to participate, visit charlottesville.gov/zoom.

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City hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, nstout@dailyprogress.com, or @nstoutDP on Twitter and Facebook.

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