City tree panel dodges the ax, for now

Posted: May 15, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Two city panels received a stay of execution at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, and one of the councilors wants to talk specifics about approximately $1.5 million in proposed spending in fiscal year 2014.

City Council held a first reading on an ordinance to alter the requirements for citizens appointed to its boards and commissions. But at the request of Councilor Jeffrey Buettner, the part of the ordinance that would have eliminated the Tree Commission and Natural Resources Advisory Board was removed.

Buettner said he’s not sure that everything has been done to make sure the two panels aren’t needed or that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is ready to take on some Tree Commission duties.

“I’d feel better if we have more discussion before we make these two boards go away,” he said.

Council Vice President Milt McInturff said he provided a report to the council about the meeting he attended regarding the Tree Commission.

“I felt that there wasn’t any justifiable meat on the bone for the Tree Commission to continue,” he said.

Councilor Ben Weber took a similar stance on about $1.5 million in spending outlined in the FY14 budget. He said he’d like to discuss certain items further at an upcoming work session.

“We haven’t discussed these items in detail,” he said.

“But you’ve had an opportunity to discuss them in detail,” Council President John Willingham replied.

The council agreed to address the proposed spending at a work session this month.

The items Weber questioned were:

$1 million in bond funding for parking garage repairs, which would be repaid by the Winchester Parking Authority.

$50,000 for a study related to the potential extension of Meadow Branch Avenue.

$10,000 for improvements to the Winchester Economic Development Authority website.

$66,000 for a tactical camera system for the Winchester Police Department.

$192,000 in spending for outside agencies.

$30,000 for a pickup for Public Works.

$100,000 for the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum because the application was made after the submission deadline for outside agencies.

Weber also said he’d like to see people employed by the city for less than six months not be eligible for raises.

The proposed budget can be viewed at winchesterva.gov.

The councilors also:

Held public hearings on the potential School Board reappointments of Melvin Thomas as a Ward 4 representative and Mary Margaret Wise as a Ward 1 representative for four-year terms ending June 30, 2017.

Voted 7-2 to approve a conditional-use permit for conversion of ground floor space to residential use from nonresidential at 22 Wolfe St. Buettner and Vice-Mayor Les Veach opposed the motion.

Voted 9-0 to approve a resolution authorizing the submission of an application for a Virginia Enterprise Zone during the 2014 designation round.

Voted 9-0 to approve a resolution establishing the intent to reimburse expenditures with the proceeds of a borrowing.

Voted 9-0 to approve a resolution to refund $3,586.67 to the Hampton Inn on Apple Blossom Drive for prorated business license taxes for 2013.

Voted 9-0 to approve a resolution to set the rate for personal property tax relief at 53 percent for 2013.

Voted 9-0 to approve a resolution authorizing an application for a Department of Justice Byrne Justice Assistance Grant for equipment and services.

Voted 8-1 to appoint Howard Manheimer and 9-0 to reappoint Richard Helm as members of the Winchester Parking Authority for five-year terms expiring May 31, 2018. Weber opposed Manheimer’s appointment.

Voted 9-0 to appoint Doug Toan as a member of the Winchester Economic Development Authority for a four-year term expiring Aug. 31, 2017.

Voted 9-0 to reappoint Fran Jeffries and Joseph Wright as members to the Lord Fairfax Community College board for four-year terms expiring June 30, 2017.

Voted 9-0 to approve a motion to correct an appointment made on April 9 to reflect the appointment of P.J. Lewis to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a five-year term ending April 30, 2018, not the Board of Architectural Review.

Announced the resignation of Hunter Hurt as a member of the Building Code Board of Appeals effective April 17.

Announced the resignation of Jason Ransom as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals effective April 25.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to approve supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year 2013 budget.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to amend city signage regulations.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to rezone 0.75 acre of land at 441 Linden Drive to Medical Center District from Low-Density Residential District.

Held a first reading on an ordinance to rezone 0.45 acre of land at 2307 Stoneridge Road to Low Density Residential District from Highway Commercial District.

Attending the meeting at Rouss City Hall were President John Willingham, Mayor Elizabeth Minor, Vice President Milt McInturff, Vice-Mayor Les Veach and councilors Jeffrey Buettner, Evan Clark, John Hill, John Tagnesi and Ben Weber.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com