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Chase City stiffens code on appearance of sites / June 16, 2021
At its monthly meeting Monday night, Chase City Town Council approved a $3.4 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year that starts July 1.

Spending priorities for the coming year include $20,000 to demolish dilapidated and abandoned buildings around town, $5,000 for Main Street façade improvement grants, $7,500 for MacCallum More Museum and Gardens, $20,000 for maintenance and repairs to the Robert E. Lee Building and $7,000 for new Christmas decorations.

As part of the renewed focus on beautifying the town, Council is amending several zoning ordinances in the town code.

On Monday, Council approved without objection a change to code section 4-2-3(b) that requires property owners to keep their land free of junk, unlicensed vehicles, trash, and debris or pay a fine.

Under the code as amended, when a violation is discovered, the chief of police will notify the property owner, either in person or in writing. The owner then has seven days to remedy the violation. Failure to act could result in the property owner being summoned to court and, if found in violation, assessed a fine of between $5 and $100 per day for each day the violation continues.

Fifteen days after a property owner has been deemed in violation of the code by a court, the Town has the right to enter the property and commence cleanup and bill the property owner for the expense.

If the landowner then fails to reimburse the town for the cost of cleanup, the town can place a lien against the property for the amount billed.

Council also approved a first reading of changes to code section 4-1-11, which would businesses allow, by special exception permit, to display merchandise or set up items such as tables and chairs on the sidewalk in front of the businesses.

Businesses will be limited to the number of items that can be placed on the sidewalk at any one time and all displays or seating must abut the building and not impede the ability of pedestrians to travel on the sidewalks.

A final vote on this code change is expected to take place at the July meeting of council.

In other business, Council members discussed changing the procedures for handling rezoning or conditional use permits by the planning commission.

Currently, if the Town receives an application for rezoning or a conditional use permit, the request must be brought before Council, which refers it to the town planning commission to make a recommendation. The application is then referred back to Council to set a public hearing. Once the hearing takes place the matter goes back to planning commission to make a final recommendation and then back to Council for a final vote.

Town Manager Dusty Forbes recommended streamlining the process. The new process calls for Council to refer applications for rezoning or conditional use permits to the planning commission for review. The commission will return its recommendation to Council which will then set the matter for a public hearing. Immediately following the public hearing, council will vote to approve or deny the application. If citizen concerns or objections are raised during the public hearing, the matter will be sent back to the planning commission for further review.

A public hearing will take place July 12 at 7 p.m. to receive input on the abandonment of an unused alleyway that exists next to property owned by Michael and Rebecca White at 125 Virginia Avenue near Oakwood Avenue.

The Town has hired local artist Sarah Inge to paint a mural on the newly restored ball field at the Chase City Community Park on Roark St.

On Saturday, June 19, Chase City is hosting a bicycle safety forum from 9 a.m.-noon. In addition to discussions about rules of the road for cyclists, experts will be available to size children for bicycle helmets. The bicycle safety forum will take place in the parking lot behind the Chase City YMCA at the corner of East Third and Boyd Streets.

Forbes is seeking input from the public on whether to change the time for the monthly council meetings from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. He gave no date for when the survey would take place.

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I think it's a Great thing to beautify our town. Please include consideration to current ADA regulations. I want to be able to enjoy the town easily.

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