From the candidates: week 4

Find out what Richmond’s mayoral and city council candidates have to say (or, in some cases, *don’t* have to say) about the Downtown Master Plan.

This week our candidates weigh in on an ever-popular issue on the Richmond Internets: The Downtown Master Plan.

Our question for this week:
If you support the proposed Downtown Master Plan and if you are elected, what specifically will you do to ensure the plan is implemented? If you oppose the proposed Downtown Master Plan and if you are elected, what steps will you take to correct, change, or modify the plan?

See below for how the mayoral and city council candidates responded. As usual, if they didn’t get back to us, you’ll see “NO RESPONSE” underneath their names.

Feel free to weigh in on the mayoral candidates’ responses in the comments on this post. As the community blogs start posting the city council candidates’ responses, we hope you’ll head on over there to discuss what current and hopeful representatives have to say. Those links will be added throughout the day as they come up.

(Previous weeks: 1, 2, Fan District Hub and Carver & Jackson Ward News to discuss the responses from the District 2 candidates.

District 3

Jonathan Davis:

Chris Hilbert:

I support the downtown master plan as proposed. It emphasizes our city’s greatest natural asset, the James River. Fourteen years ago, when I moved to Richmond, I was struck by how underutilitized the river was. While there has been some improvement, I believe that the master plan gives us a roadmap for greater access and use of the river. In addition, the plan changes the concept of our downtown streets from a place to simply expedite the flow of traffic in and out of the city to an environment that is more friendly to pedestrians and the economic development of downtown. Streetscapes will be planned in accordance with new urbanism design using the new zoning approved by council for mixed use developments which decrease our dependence on automobiles. Finally, the plan gives a format for addressing issues of development with the state government. While the region as a whole certainly benefits from Richmond being the capital city of Virginia, the city carries the bulk of the downside. Namely, the $4.6 billion of properties owned by the commonwealth that are exempt from real estate taxes, providing police and fire protection for state workers and facilities and the loss of control of the development of properties owned by the state government. The master plan gives a mechanism to address the later issue.

The process for gathering feedback from the public was inclusive and the Director of Community Development, Rachael Flynn and her staff are to be commended. The downtown master plan is very important for our city, region and state and should be implemented without delay. In addition, I look forward to the process of developing master plans for the other neighborhoods of our city where the majority of our citizens reside.

To implement the plan, the next council must be ready to appropriate money for the acquisition of any properties and approve any necessary changes to traffic flow and zoning. There are and there will continue to be issues of disagreement on the final plan. However it should be noted that the plan can be adjusted for changing circumstances as needed in the future. Now is the time to approve the plan as proposed.

District 4

Kathy Graziano (incumbent):

District 5

Mark Brandon:

I have been involved in this master plan process from the beginning. As a civic association president in the West Main/ Cary/ Parkwood Ave area we lead the rezoning’s in the area using many of the same principals now at play in the Downtown Master Plan. Working closely with VCU dept of Urban Studies and Planning we passed at city council the West Main Street Corridor Plan in 1998. In 1996 I took a lead role with the West Cary Street Revitalization Plan, which has changed the face of Cary Street, from Meadow toward VCU. Still using those same urban design principals, I was a founding member of this local chapter of the Sierra Club’s Restore The Core Committee. My nine years in New York City as a business operator and mass transit patron I understand “the new urbanism” principals that should shape master plans in all areas of our city.

The downtown plan needs no more changing and needs to be passed NOW ! Richmond no longer needs to accommodate the needs of a few would be developers. Our Downtown is hot and on the move; let’s pass this plan and get back to work on the rest of our town.

Marty Jewell (incumbent):

Lee Shewmake:

I support the Downtown Master Plan. Implementing the plan will involve a great deal of marketing to developers to ensure we get the projects we want. Richmond has historically fallen short in the marketing of itself and this must change. I would also support a streamlined approval process for development at a location that matches the Master Plan goal for that location. I would also ensure that any proposed changes or deviations from the plan were well advertised to the public and meetings held for the public’s input and approval. The Master Plan is only useful if the city government approves projects that match closely to the plan. Unfortunately in the past, projects not fitting with or remotely similar to the previous Master Plan have been permitted, which to me defeats the purpose of expending significant time, effort and money to develop a plan. Arbitrary set asides to encourage development for development’s sake is in stark contrast to the purpose of developing a plan, which is about deciding ahead of time generally what you want and where you want it. As most agree, our existing old and historic neighborhoods, whether they possess an actual designation or not, are one of Richmond’s greatest assets. One of the few that distinguishes the city from surrounding localities. The impact to these areas and the people and businesses currently there must be the priority when considering altering or deviating from the Master Plan.

Visit Oregon Hill to comment on the responses from the District 5 candidates.

District 6

Ellen Robertson (incumbent):

District 7

Clarence Kenney:

Delores McQuinn (incumbent):

District 8

C. Allen Barrett:

Eric W. Hunter, Sr.:

Reva Trammell (incumbent):

District 9

Doug Conner (incumbent):

I support the Downtown Master Plan. In addition to voting in favor of this measure, I also intend to lobby to my colleagues to do the same and would encourage citizens who also support the plan to lobby other members of Council to vote for the plan as well.

Eugene Mason, Jr.:

Adrian Preston:

Ok, readers. Have at it. And as always, if you have questions you’d like to see our candidates answer, send them our way or leave them in the comments.

(A note to the candidates: All questions are being sent to the email addresses listed on the Virginia State Board of Elections website. If you would prefer we communicate with you through a different email address, please let us know.)

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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