- Board Members
- Mason Andrews Jr.
- Paige Rose
- Mike Spencer
- BarBara Murphy
- Sharon Plawin
- Irene O’Brien
- Dennis Russell
- Henry Conde
- Joan McEnery
- Jon Hanbury
- Suanne Williams
President Spencer called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. A welcome was given by him, and board and member introductions followed.
A motion was made and seconded to approve the previous month’s minutes.
Officer Klein presented the crime report. The following was reported: In the month previous there were 12 incidents with eight being larcenies to vehicles. The City of Norfolk has prepared a handout to educate the community regarding these crimes. The Police Department is working with Ghent businesses to have “trespass letters” on file which allows police to take into custody any trespassers. In response to a question, Officer Klein advised members to call the non-emergency number if confronted by a panhandling individuals.
Featured speaker: Pay Clay – Ghent History
Due to the many pressing issues at the meeting, the featured speaker graciously volunteered to defer the presentation to the next meeting.
Old Point National Bank
There was a presentation by Jim Newsom and Jeff Sanford, representatives of Old Point National Bank, regarding its new construction on Granby Street. The new building will be 6,900 square feet and will include a branch, lines of business and commercial lending. It will also have a drive-through and a drive-up ATM.
Norfolk Public Library
There was a presentation by Amanda Renwick of the Norfolk Public Library to promote the library’s Summer Reading Club. Information was distributed regarding the program. In response to questions, there was also a general update regarding the main library’s temporary move to the Seaboard building. One-third of the collection will be housed in the location.
Sacred Heart Church
There was a presentation by Father Daniel Klem, Clay Dills, AIA, and Paige Pollard, representatives of Sacred Heart Church, regarding the proposed addition to Sacred Heart Church. Representatives reported that the Design Review Committee has granted preliminary review for the plan. The site plans were reviewed in detail at the meeting, and it was reported that Gresham Construction will be the contractor for the project. In summary, the proposed expansion will be built above the existing commons and will include six classrooms; representatives reported that the church will still have a deficiency in classroom space. The height of the expansion was estimated at 29 feet and will be at or below the eave line of the rectory. A representative of the adjoining Bentmore condominium building outlined the condo owners’ concerns which had previously been shared with the city and the church. It was reported that Sacred Heart was in the process of reviewing the plans in an effort to try to address the neighbors’ concerns. It was agreed that an open dialogue should continue between the neighbors and the church. In response to questions, Sacred Heart reported that the use of the space will be for current uses, not for additional new uses such as a pre-school as had been a concern and that no additional expansion was being considered.
Treasurer Dennis Russell reported a balance of $10,494 in the league’s checking account. He also reported on plans to implement a PayPal payment option on the league’s Web site for membership renewals.
Ghent Task Force meeting
Mason Andrews provided a report from the May meeting. Proposed developments were reviewed, the GBA golf tournament was announced and it was reported that the GBA has a new logo.
Block Security program
First Vice President Paige Rose provided a report on the Block Security Program. It was reported that there is now a Crime Mapping Program available to the public on the City of Norfolk’s Web site. Also reported was that the spokesperson from the Norfolk Sheriff Office has requested an opportunity to make a public outreach presentation to the league that will be scheduled for an upcoming meeting. As reported, there will be an upcoming meeting of the Sector Representatives.
Communications and newsletter
It was reported that Susanne Williams will be back in the area in July; the next newsletter was anticipated in August.
- 20th Street
- It was a reported that there are traffic concerns with regard to 20th Street and the possible need for a four-way stop sign at the corner of 20th and Manteo. President Spencer will coordinate this issue with the adjacent Blair Middle School.
- Colonial Avenue
- Richard Williams was asked by the board to contact Dr. Akhan, city traffic engineer, for an update on the city’s traffic-calming project.
Archiving of league documents
It was reported that John Parker has completed the archiving process. The league extends its thanks and appreciation for his undertaking this project.
Amendment of zoning ordinance
Secretary Joan McEnery provided a report on the current status of the city’s proposed amendment to the historic districts’ height restrictions. The Planning Commission granted the league’s request to defer the matter to allow for neighborhood input. It was reported that Ghent and Freemason have joined together to form the Neighborhood Working Group to work together on this issue. There was a meeting with the city’s planning director on this matter, and he was invited to address the June league meeting but declined due to a previous commitment. The responsiveness of Councilwoman Dr. Whibley and Councilman Winn to the community’s concerns on this issue was recognized. It was reported that the working group was having difficulty in obtaining reliable information from the city on this issue which had slowed process. It was agreed that there is overwhelming community support for a set height limit and for an ordinance that protects the historic districts. The latest draft of the ordinance was read. The board unanimously voted for the following: that the league would join Freemason’s request to defer the matter; that it will oppose the amendment if the deferral is denied; that its position is to support a set maximum height limit of 35 feet, that the league could consider supporting an ordinance that has some limited special exceptions for narrowly drawn uses such as “steeples” and that Henry Conde and Joan McEnery are given the authority to speak for and negotiate with the city on the issue on behalf of the league. Secretary McEnery also was given the authority to testify on behalf of the league at upcoming public hearings on this issue.
In response to a request from a member, the board voted against his request to send internal board communication regarding this matter to the attorney representing the litigants in an ongoing related court case. However, in response to his request, the board did agree to send proposed versions of the ordinance to the attorney as a local expert and league member and to request any substantive comments or suggestions he might have regarding the proposed new ordinance.
President Spencer announced plans for a board retreat before the next meeting and proposed the week of June 23.
A member brought to the board’s attention concerns regarding noise related to Sentara’s ongoing and planned construction.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:43 p.m.
Submitted by Joan McEnery