UDC Approves Venture Richmond’s Plan Despite Public Concerns

Richmond.com has a report on how the “Tredegar Green, Brown’s Island Proposals Pass UDC”.

By the way, the Richmond Free Press has an interesting story this week on the “Marsh commission bypasses law in drive for freedom monument” on Brown’s Island, which may delineate some of the fissures in Richmond’s political establishment.

Some of my own correspondence (editorial):

Despite our Councilperson’s request for a continuance, the UDC went ahead and approved Venture Richmond’s plan at today’s meeting.

Thank you, Parker, for responding and speaking up for Richmond citizens. Certainly, we are looking forward to new information in regard to the project. I hope the City can be sensitive to potential archeologically important material on this site.

Personally, I believe the vote reflects very poorly on the UDC and Venture RIchmond.

Thank you,

Scott Burger

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Agelasto, Parker C. – Council Member”
Subject: Re: please do not approve the Venture Richmond amphitheater proposal
Date: January 9, 2014 7:46:35 AM EST
To: Scott Burger
Cc: aalmond@3north.com, ariasllc@comcast.net, dcole@cite-design.com, garlandvw@gmail.com, Bryan Green , Giles Harnsberger , Andrea Levine , jnolt@3north.com, claire@GradientEnvironment.com, smithrd3@gmail.com, “Jeff R. – PDR Eastman” , “Mark A. – PDR Olinger” , Jack Berry

Dear Scott,

Thank you for writing to the Urban Design Committee. I too believe the timing of final review for the Tredegar Green project is premature at this stage. In discussions with Mark Olinger, the City is planning to restore the historic wall that was demolished. This will likely change the character of the site and should be reflected in the plan. Likewise, the Section 106 and Army Crops of Engineer reviews have not been completed. According to Mr. Olinger, the City’s review can proceed but no work permits can be issued until these are complete. If DHR and COE return with material changes to the plan, it will have to begin from the beginning of the process again. That being the case, continuing the UDC review should not put any hardship on Venture Richmond to wait for final approval until after these important, independent, reviews are complete.

Finally, Venture Richmond has not applied for a rezoning of the parcel where the amphitheater would be located. Thus, the use of the site as such is only permitted four days of the year. It would seem inadvisable for the City to issue site approval for a permanent change to the landscape that only can be used temporarily for it’s intended use. Likewise, discussions are underway that would provide significant landfill for grading of the Tredegar Green site such that the canal embankments would not be disturbed. This dirt would be coming from an area on the Virginia War Memorial site and would be a win-win for them, Venture Richmond, and canal preservationists. This grading would benefit from roughly 1,600 truckloads of additional, locally-sourced, dirt and could be considered a material change to the grading plan as proposed.

I hope that the items listed about are reasons enough for the UDC to request a continuance of the final review of the Tredegar Green proposal. Unfortunately, I am unavailable to attend today’s hearing and request that this issues be brought to the attention of all UDC members.

Parker C. Agelasto
Richmond City Council, 5th District

On Jan 8, 2014, at 10:54 PM, “Scott Burger” wrote:

Dear members of the Richmond Urban Design Committee,

As a citizen who lives near the site of this proposed project I plead with you to NOT approve Venture Richmond’s Tredegar Green amphitheater proposal.

I am greatly concerned that Venture RIchmond’s proposal will negatively impact the historic integrity of the Kanawha Canal. I note that Venture Richmond was leasing the property when a historically significant wall was illegally demolished. I note that the Virginia Department of Historic Resources has not completed its Section 106 review of the proposal. This is a canal that was designed and presided over by no one less than George Washington!

I am also concerned that Venture Richmond’s proposal will negatively impact the structural integrity of the Kanawha Canal. This is very important because Venture RIchmond’s proposal could block public plans that have been in place for decades to renovate and re-water the historic Kanawha Canal. My City Councilperson has requested funds for this very purpose. Please do not allow Venture Richmond to alter or diminish this ‘blueway’ which is so important to the City’s past and future.

As an Oregon Hill neighbor, I am very concerned that Venture Richmond’s proposal will have a negative impact on my community’s quality of life in terms of congestion, litter, and noise. Venture Richmond has not adequately responded to or addressed community concerns in this regard. The City’s Downtown Master Plan states that historic neighborhoods such as Oregon Hill need to be protected from unsuitable development.

I do not believe Venture Richmond can be trusted to act as a good neighbor. I note that the Oregon Hill Neighborhood Association has offered a compromise proposal on the location of the proposed amphitheater that Venture RIchmond has ignored. I am disturbed that City staff have not adequately responded to questions from Richmond citizens, who were told that they would have to wait for the Army Corp of Engineers review.

Lastly, I will also say that I am very angry that tomorrow’s meeting was not given proper public notice. Due to this lack of proper notice, I will not be able to exercise my rights as a citizen to speak in person at this meeting.

Again, I plead with you to please NOT approve Venture Richmond’s Tredegar Green amphitheater proposal. At the very least, continue this matter until necessary reviews are completed and staff has fully answered questions.

Thank you,

Scott Burger