Two members were absent for the third straight City Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 24, allowing for one of the shortest meetings in the past six months.
The ball fields proposed for the Stafford West property, north of Route 50 and just west of Stafford Drive, were excluded from the agenda after the discussion was postponed at the last meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 10. Councilmembers have heard concepts for construction in at least three different work sessions, with each one fueling a list of more questions about the construction details and costs.
Councilmember Patrice Winter presented the invocation, citing the council’s special thoughts and prayers to their fellow councilmember Jeff Greenfield and his family. Greenfield’s daughter, Alexandra, was born last month with a complex heart condition and underwent open-heart surgery the day of the Oct. 24 council meeting. On the family’s Web page listing updates on Alexandra’s condition, www.carepages.com, under “AlexandraGreenfield,” Jeff Greenfield wrote that the surgery went as expected and that Alexandra was in recovery. It looks as though the first of three surgeries went well, in time for Jeff Greenfield’s 40th birthday, Wednesday, Oct. 25, he wrote. Councilmembers prayed for the Greenfields and asked the public to do the same.
“The news is very good at this point,” said Councilmember Scott Silverthorne.
A SHORT AGENDA allowed council to move through the regular session meeting quickly. Council unanimously approved an amendment to the City Code to comply with new changes made to the state code, at the July 1 General Assembly meeting. The amendment changed the wording of city laws restricting the use of motorized devices on city highways. The City Code now allows motorized skateboards, motorized scooters, electric personal assistive devices and electric bicycles on highways, to comply with the new state laws.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding was that we were going to do something to get rid of these bikes,” said Gary Perryman, president of the Westmore Community Association. “Who’s going to hold the legal liability for the child and the property of the cars they hit or get hit by?”
Perryman said that parents couldn’t be held liable if no law prohibits it, making it impossible to show gross negligence. Silverthorne, who filled in for Mayor Robert Lederer in his absence, asked City Attorney Brian Lubkeman if he could comment on the issue of liability brought up by Perryman.
“[It’s] probably not in good form to do that,” said Lubkeman. “I think there are ways to hold parents responsible for the actions of their children, but that’s a general comment.”
Councilmember Gail Lyon addressed her restrictions on the regulations of tattoo parlors. Since the businesses deal with dangerous potential for spreading diseases, Lyon said she hoped council could tighten up the laws a little bit more with regard to the process of making sure tattoo parlors are operating safely and legally. Lyon was the only councilmember who abstained from voting for the approval of the meeting’s minutes.
Another issue receiving a lot of attention at the Oct. 24 meeting was tenant signage in the Main Street Marketplace, at the corner of Old Lee Highway and Main Street. The shopping center’s largest tenant, the grocery store chain Harris Teeter, vacated the center last spring and remaining tenants have expressed concern about losing their so-called “anchor” store. Tenants want to be allowed to display additional signage, specifically “sandwich board signs,” to entice potential customers, but the City Code restricts the signs outside of the Historic District.
“They [businesses there] need help now,” said Winter.
Monty Lowe, city deputy zoning administrator, showed photos of sandwich board signs used by businesses in the Historic District, and illegally by businesses throughout the city. Councilmembers discussed having the tenants of that building possibly draft plans for sign alternatives. Council would then consider temporarily allowing the businesses to display the signs until a new anchor tenant moves into the shopping center. Council asked staff to work with the tenants closely to draft a plan that would later be brought for approval before them at a future meeting.