Council to review neighborhood maps, noise laws, former shelter

PETERSBURG – The city council is about to vote on a few pieces of legislation that have been the subject of public debate over the past few months. A vote will ratify a new noise ordinance that governs residential areas. Another is to put up for sale a building on Commerce Street that was last used as a shelter for homeless men.

Petersburg is currently holding meetings virtually on guard against the Omicron variant outbreak. The meeting can be accessed virtually through the city’s website. The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 18.

Public comments can be made by joining the meeting via Zoom.

The Council will discuss new neighborhood maps for the next decade

City ward maps are redrawn after each decennial census during the state legislative redistricting process. The Crater District Planning Commission previously submitted eight draft maps to the St. Petersburg City Council. The agenda now shows two possible options for ward boundaries.

The city council must discuss the two final options before a subsequent public hearing.

Following: Two of Petersburg’s neighborhoods will have to shrink during this redistricting round

The population of St. Petersburg increased by 1038 people between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. In short, this means that wards 1 and 2 have become too big and have to cede some of their constituents to other wards.

Some of the advisers expressed dissatisfaction with some of the possible outcomes.

Ward 1 councilor Treska Wilson-Smith said she would favor a ward map that would unify the ward of Blandford into Ward 1, having been split in the previous redistricting round in 2010. The he other half of Blandford ended up in Ward 4, represented by Councilor Charlie Cuthbert. He fought back and defended his portrayal of the Blandford ward while in office.

Ward 2 Councilor Darrin Hill expressed concern that Berkley Manor would move to another district, which was the result of almost every project.

City council representatives

  • Ward 1 – Treska Wilson-Smith
  • Ward 2 – Darrin Hill
  • Ward 3 – (Mayor) Samuel Parham
  • Ward 4 – Charlie Cuthbert
  • Ward 5 – W. Howard Myers
  • Ward 6 – (Vice-Mayor) Annette Smith-Lee
  • Ward 7 – Arnold Westbrook, Jr.

Option 1: Moves part of the north end of Blandford and the area around the Crater Square apartments to Ward 4 from Ward 1. Ward 1 again takes over Berkeley Manor from Ward 2.

Option 2: Consolidates all of Blandford into Ward 4. Ward 1 balances these numbers by taking Berkeley Manor from Ward 2.

Notable changes in both options: Grove Avenue is moved from Ward 4 to Ward 5. The area around the Tanglewood apartments is moved from Ward 5 to Ward 6. The boundaries of Ward 5 move east between one and three blocks, from Ward 4 Ward 6 takes up 17 blocks from Ward 5’s western boundary along Dunlop Street.

Vote to sell the former building of the Salvation Army Men’s Homeless Shelter

City Council is currently reviewing purchase requests from five businesses and nonprofits for 835 Commerce Street. The building was previously a shelter for homeless men run by the Salvation Army.

This agenda item will include a public hearing where bidders will be invited to present their plans, and the public will have the opportunity to give their opinion on the future of the building.

Councilman W. Howard Myers — who chairs the ward where the building is located — said in a previous meeting that he preferred a purchase option offered by Habitat for Humanity. Habitat currently operates a joint building and would use 835 Commerce Street to expand its ReStore.

The other options are:

  • Quality trailers – A trailer manufacturer looking to establish five stores on the East Coast over the next five years.
  • Northside Gourmet Market – The Richmond-based market is looking to expand to Petersburg with a modular coworking space for indoor farming, fermentation and local food storage and distribution.
  • Southside Community Development and Housing Corporation – The SCDHC wishes to create a community living space of 12 studios at market price targeting people in the process of home ownership.
  • Paradise Trust LLC – A minority-owned manufacturer of death care products like caskets and embalming tables.

None of the proposed bidders offers a price within the guidelines established by the city. St. Petersburg rules state that minimum purchase prices should be 50% of a building’s appraised value. According to this rule, a purchase price must be around $215,000. SCDC’s offer comes closest, at $214,500. Habitat is the second closest at $155,000.

Decision on the annual allocation of community development funds

The City’s Community Development Block Grants Advisory Board recommends that City Council approve funding for five projects with a total of 10 applicants.

CDBG grants are awarded annually to localities by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to “build stronger, more resilient communities.” Activities eligible for assistance are projects such as housing rehabilitation, code enforcement, real estate acquisition, demolition, infrastructure, economic development and social services.

In the past, Petersburg has prioritized CDBG funds for projects that improve residential and commercial properties to encourage investment, create plans for future recreation or capital projects and utilities related to the elderly, the young and the homeless.

The CDBG Advisory Board has recommended the following projects:

  • $245,630 – Submitted by the City of Petersburg – Fund code enforcement activities plus one additional service employee. This group emphasizes deteriorating buildings and areas where at least 20% of the buildings have one or more deficiencies.
  • $35,000 – Submitted by the YMCA of Greater Richmond – Ongoing financial support for four programs in St. Petersburg: after-school time, adolescent, Learn to Swim and Bright Beginnings.
  • $15,000 – Submitted by River Street Market – Assist in continuous market improvement and awareness. The market has set 10 goals to tackle food deserts in the city. It operates a year-round weekly site as well as an online market and mobile market serving low-income areas.
  • $150,000 – Submitted by the City of Petersburg – Petersburg will identify 15 or more homes so deteriorated that demolition is the only option. Upon allocation of the funds, the project would continue in 2022.
  • $195,000 – Submitted by Project:HOMES – It’s Critical Home Repair Program will provide repair services to eligible owner-occupied homes in Petersburg. It provides that a minimum of 15 households will be served.

Project requests not recommended for funding:

  • $500,000 – Submitted by the Museum of African American Women’s Art and History – Rehabilitation of residential and non-residential structures
  • $15,000 – Submitted by Boyd BHG – The reason for use is not listed with the agenda documents
  • $193,100 – Submitted by Ray of Sunshine – Rehabilitation of residential and non-residential structures
  • $347,685 – Submitted by Petersburg Community Development Society Restoration – For the construction of public facilities and improvements.
  • $25,000 – Submitted by Main Street Petersburg Inc. – Construction of public facilities and facilities.

Final Vote on New Noise Ordinance for Residential Dwellings

The outcry over the city’s overhaul of noise ordinances brought nearly 100 people to a Planning Commission meeting at Union Station. They were protesting a proposed order suggesting restaurants should close early. The Planning Commission voted not to impose operating limits, but rather to change the noise ordinance.

The amended order removes details on the types of noise and reduces them to the following:

Second. 50-33. – Specific prohibitions: It is forbidden for anyone to: make noise between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. in areas where residential dwellings are permitted (including, but not limited to, any house or multi-family dwelling) in these areas manner or with volume or duration as understood within the limits of a residential dwelling or multi-family dwelling of another person.

In all other areas of the city, noise must be regulated in accordance with Article 50-36, which also applies to areas covered by this section.nm

You can reach Sean Jones at [email protected] Follow him on @SeanJones_PI. Follow The Progress-Index on Twitter at @ProgressIndex.

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