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David Smith

WINCHESTER — Mayor David Smith will continue to pull double duty as president of City Council.

Smith was unanimously re-elected to the president’s post at Tuesday night’s council meeting, the panel’s first get-together of 2021.

As president, Smith sets the agenda for, and presides over, City Council’s twice-monthly meetings and work sessions. After first being elected to the position in January 2019, this will be Smith’s second two-year term as president.

Council also re-elected Ward 2 representative John Hill as vice mayor, but made a change at vice president by picking Ward 3 Councilor Kim Herbstritt after Ward 2 representative Evan Clark bowed out of the nomination.

For the third year in a row, all three of City Council’s executive positions are held by Democrats. The party gained a 5-4 majority on the panel following the general election on Nov. 6, 2018, marking the first time in nearly 40 years that Democrats outnumbered Republicans. Democrats’ advantage over council’s GOP representatives increased to 7-2 in the most recent general election, held on Nov. 3.

In other business at Tuesday night’s business meeting and work session, City Council:

Voted 7-2 to forward a proposed ordinance amendment that would ban most people from carrying firearms and ammunition into any city government building, property or event. Exemptions would be granted to sworn law-enforcement personnel, active-duty military performing official duties, security personnel contracted by the city, museum displays, historical re-enactors, Senior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program personnel or any intercollegiate athletics programs involving the use of firearms. Council’s only Republican members, Les Veach and Corey Sullivan, opposed the measure.

Unanimously approved an easement allowing The Laurel Center to encroach on city-owned land as it converts a former train station at 402 N. Cameron St. into a cafe that would provide job-training opportunities for the nonprofit’s clients.

Voted 8-0-1 to approve a series of proposed, routine updates to the city’s floodplain regulations. Phillip Milstead, attending his first meeting as a City Council member, abstained from the vote because he did not participate in previous discussions about the proposal.

Voted 8-0-1 to approve amendments to the Winchester Zoning Ordinance that set conditions for the allowance of multifamily dwellings in the city’s Central Business (B-1) zoning district. Milstead abstained because he did not participate in earlier discussions about the proposal.

Unanimously approved a resolution that creates a new Planning and Economic Development Committee to review proposals related to planning, zoning and commercial and residential development, and broadens the responsibilities of council’s Boards and Commissions Committee to review, evaluate and update more than 100 memorandums of agreement the city has signed over the years with other government and community agencies.

Unanimously approved a resolution of sorrow memorializing former mayor, longtime City Council member and prolific community servant Charles Zuckerman, who died on Dec. 25 at the age of 96.

Received an update from Winchester Emergency Management Director Scott Kensinger regarding the city’s ongoing efforts to minimize the spread and effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Conducted a first reading of a planned-unit development (PUD) request that would allow property owner Jay Donegan of Reston to build The Local, a 198-unit apartment complex, on a vacant parcel of land at 222 Spring St. zoned Highway Commercial (B-2).

Voted 8-1 to forward a rezoning request that would allow Healthcare Development Partners of Chicago to build a 143-unit housing complex with age-restricted and general-use dwellings at 441 Linden Drive, the site of the former Frederick County Middle School. Veach opposed the measure.

Unanimously agreed to forward a proposed 49% rate for Winchester’s 2021 personal property tax relief. That’s one percentage point higher than the 48% rate approved for tax year 2020. Under the new proposed rate, Commissioner of the Revenue Ann T. Burkholder said this year’s out-of-pocket tax payment for a person who owns a vehicle valued at $20,000 would decrease by approximately $7.

Unanimously agreed to forward a proposed $16,081.20 refund to an undisclosed party for overpayment of personal property taxes.

Unanimously agreed to forward a conditional-use permit (CUP) allowing developer Bill McIntosh to operate a bed and breakfast with seven guest rooms and up to 80 outdoor events per year at the 149-year-old Selma Mansion at 514 Amherst St., located in a Residential Office (RO-1) zoning district with a Historic Winchester District overlay.

Unanimously agreed to forward a proposed CUP that would allow McIntosh to offer 11 extended-stay lodging units on the second and third floors of an office building at 112 N. Loudoun St., located in a B-1 zoning district with a Historic Winchester District overlay.

Unanimously agreed to forward a proposed CUP that would allow Kim Craig to operate a laundromat in a building at 715 S. Kent St., located in a High-Density Residential (HR-1) district.

Voted 8-1 to forward a proposed CUP that would allow Maria Santos to convert the ground floor of a building at 725-727 S. Loudoun St., located in a B-1 zoning district, to residential use. Hill voted against the proposal.

Attending Tuesday night’s City Council meeting and work session, which were held via videoconference, were Mayor and council President David Smith, Vice President Kim Herbstritt, Vice Mayor John Hill and members Judy McKiernan, Evan Clark, Les Veach, Corey Sullivan, Richard Bell and Phillip Milstead.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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