Minimum wage hike defeat and Seminole Square apartments: Newscast for January 22, 2019
Good morning and welcome to today’s installment of this experimental newscast. The idea of this evolving concept is to inform you and other listeners about what’s happening in the greater Charlottesville area, as well as state government. We’re glad you’ve joined us and hope this will become part of how you stay informed. Today’s sponsor is Court Square Tavern, a great place to talk about what you learn on this program. Bring some friends for lunch, Monday through Friday or dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturday night. That’s Court Square Tavern, in the bottom of the old Monticello Hotel. Now, on with the following.
In the state Senate yesterday, a bill to raise the minimum wage in Virginia was defeated on party line votes. All 21 Republicans voted against the legislation, which would have raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour this July with further increases to $15 in subsequent years.
The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Roz Dance of Petersburg, said the legislation was intended to create more opportunity for those in low-pay jobs.
“This has been a simple bill that has been out for quite a year now… from those who find themselves that are hard workers and they want to work but they aren’t able to make a salary that will allow them to have a quality living style for their families.”
But Senator Mark Obenshain, a Republican from Rockingham County, said the measure would hurt business.
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A similar bill awaits action in a House of Delegates Commerce and Labor subcommittee.
A bill for Virginia to become the 38th and final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment is scheduled for a key subcommittee meeting tomorrow. House Privileges and Elections SubCommittee #1 will begin at 7:00 am tomorrow. The Virginia Senate passed the ERA amendment last week on a 26 to 14 vote.
One of Charlottesville’s underused commercial shopping centers could soon have a new future as a residential community. The Great Eastern Management Company will present a conceptual idea to the city’s Planning Commission tonight. That’s in advance of an official application for a special use permit on the site of a former Giant grocery store. The plans depict demolition of a portion of the existing building and construction of 11 five-story buildings, most of which would contain apartments for rent. Most of the units would have one or two-bedrooms, while only a dozen would contain three-bedrooms.
The work session is an opportunity for commissioners to weigh the proposal against the city’s Comprehensive Plan. The ongoing review of that document is currently on hold while a search is conducted for a company to facilitate further discussions. In the meantime, the property under review tonight is within the area of a small area plan adopted by both Charlottesville and Albemarle County last year.
Further to the north, the Greene County Board of Supervisors tonight will consider a special use permit for up to 212 apartment units off of Moore Road. Without the permit, the 13 acres of land would only be allowed up to 78 units. The staff report for the proposal states that “the demand is emerging for housing options that offers a more affordable and convenient lifestyle that is offered by many low-density suburban communities.” A market study conducted for the new complex found that the occupancy rate for apartments in Greene and Northern Albemarle is at ‘just under 99 percent.”
As part of the plan, the developer would build a new connector road and would pay $2.4 million in fees to connect to water and sewer. Greene County is currently working with the Rapidan Service Authority to pay for a new reservoir to increase the community’s water supply.
And finally today, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission will meet today. Among the items on their agenda is a plan in Norfolk for a “community-wide coastal resiliency project” for two flood-prone neighborhoods. The idea is to build a series of berms and restore “living shorelines” to mitigate or halt the rising waters. Part of the project involves a restoration of oyster habitat.