RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Planning Commission voted to delay moving on a proposal that would re-classify the medians immediately around Lee Circle as city parks.
The 60-day delay was decided in a 5-4 vote on Monday.
As it stands, the medians on all sides of the Robert E. Lee monument are public space, but the proposal - penned by Richmond City Councilman Kim Gray - would designate them as city park space, bringing all the rules of those spaces like no firearms, and being closed off to the public between dusk and dawn.
It would benefit residents of the area, who’ve expressed concern over the last few months over people gathering at the circle.
“If you’re walking through the park after-hours and it’s dark, that’s perfectly legal. If you set up a picnic in the middle of the night and you start playing a radio and you’re sitting out there after midnight, that’s not allowed," explained Gray.
She added that some of the medians by the circle are already designated parks, such as Grace Park on West Broad Street and North Allen Avenue. The ordinance would affect the medians from Meadow Avenue to Stuart Circle, and then Allen Avenue to Broad Street.
Some members of the city’s planning commission pointed out that establishing these rules would only force protestors to move elsewhere. Others called for more public engagement.
“There had not been any signs on the properties advertising the ordinance that was before the commission, and the only community engagement had been with some of the local neighborhood associations that had concerns with about the protests,” said member John “Jack” Thompson, who voted for a delay.
Member David Johannes voted against a delay but did agree that more work needed to be done first, adding that 60 days was excessive.
“I thought 30 days would have been fine. The 60-day delay also brought it into a different political period, I think. That meant that would’ve been December before it would come up again, and it might not be until a new council that it might get voted on,” Johannes said.
Councilwoman Gray says the proposal will be revisited in mid-December. If approved, it would then move forward to the city council for review.
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