Rumor Mill – Rumors vs. Facts
Occasionally rumors, gossip and sometimes unconfirmed claims can spread quickly. In an effort to enhance communication between the City of Colonial Heights and our citizens, this page will be updated from time to time with topics that will hopefully clarify some of the more well-known rumors that maybe out in our community.
Do you have a rumor you would like to share with us? Contact the City Manager's Office at (804)520-9265.
Zoning ChangesSeptember 14, 2018
Rumor: "I saw that City Council had a closed meeting regarding a proposed rezoning. The City Council must be changing zoning of a property behind closed doors."
Fact: The City Council cannot change zoning in a closed meeting, although City Council can receive legal advice regarding a proposed rezoning in a closed meeting. City Council can also not take binding votes in a closed meeting. No action of the City Council in a closed meeting becomes legally effective until it is identified and approved by an open vote in a public meeting. In addition, certain actions, such as rezoning, require a public hearing process to be held as well.
June 26, 2017
Kroger Project Update
Facts: The following are some relevant facts regarding Kroger’s decision to not build a store in Colonial Heights and the old courthouse property:
- Kroger issued the following media statement regarding their decision to not build the store in Colonial Heights:
"After careful thought, we have decided that our planned Colonial Heights store will not move forward to the construction phase. We understand that our decision to not build the Colonial Heights store may seem confusing or cause frustration and we sincerely apologize to those who anticipated our store opening. Our company has made a decision to focus our efforts on improving the customer experience at existing stores through renovations and innovative technology.
We have truly enjoyed working with the City of Colonial Heights and the entire community over the past few years. Kroger will work closely with the City of Colonial Heights to help find a new, viable tenant for the property and cover the cost of demolishing the courthouse. Thank you for your patience.”
- This was a Kroger business decision, not a decision by the City of Colonial Heights.
- The City did everything it reasonably could do to have the store constructed, and City officials are disappointed with Kroger’s decision.
- Kroger will market the property to sell, but the City has to provide written consent for who purchases the property.
- Under the City’s agreement with Kroger, the City does have the option to purchase the property back from Kroger (this option has not been exercised at this time).
- Kroger will demolish the old courthouse building, at no cost to the City.
December 15, 2016
Rumor: "The City Council does not like exotic birds and “has it in” for anyone who owns them."
Fact: This is untrue. During its December 13, 2016 meeting, Council spent approximately 1 ½ hours (which is highly unusual) listening to and speaking with Lewis Waskey to gather as much information as possible in regards to his application for a permit to keep as companion animals 22 large exotic birds already located on his property, which is almost three times the legal limit. Given that this request concerned pets, and birds listed as an endangered species, Council wanted to learn all available facts before making its decision. After careful consideration of the owner’s request and the needs of his neighbors and the City as a whole, the Council voted to allow Mr. Waskey to keep 8 of his 22 birds (4 per residence), plus his dog; but the remaining 14 birds have to be located elsewhere by May 1, 2017. Council’s decision was based on the following considerations:
• The birds are located in a City with other residents living in close proximity (unlike rural areas in a County).
• Complaints from neighbors
• The precedent that granting Mr. Waskey’s request would set forth for other situations where citizens with a large number
of animals apply for a permit.
Despite denying Mr. Waskey’s request, the Council Members greatly respect his affection for and care of his birds, and the courtesy he exhibited prior to and during Council’s December 13, 2016 meeting.
Rental Inspection Program
Rumor: “Will rental properties be inspected by the Building Inspections Division anymore with the recent repealing of the Rental Inspection Program, Chapter 113 of the City Code?”
Fact: The City Council did hold a public hearing and had a first reading on Ordinance No. 16-43, repealing the Chapter 113, Rental Inspection Program, of the Colonial Heights City Code at the November 15, 2016 meeting. However, it will have a second reading at the December regular meeting of City Council for the Ordinance to be effective.
However, this does not mean the Building Inspections Division will not inspect rental properties in Colonial Heights any longer. Tenants of rental property, properties they are actively renting, will still have the right to request a building inspector to inspect the property that they are renting for any building code violations. The tenant will need to fill out a property maintenance complaint form and sign it. This is the Building Inspections Division’s proof of legal right of entry to the interior of the property. The Property Maintenance Section of the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code provides for the inspection of owner occupied or rental properties for violations located and visible on the outside of the primary structure such as rotten window seals, structures with damaged or missing siding, chipped paint, and other unsafe living conditions.
Also, the repealing of this Chapter of the City Code will not allow for structural changes to a single family residence to occur without a building permit issued by the Building Inspections Division and no structure can be converted to multiple housing units without the proper rezoning.
Utility Bills – Water Cut-offs
April 22, 2016
Rumor: “In the most recent ‘City Manager's Monthly Report’, it included the following information about Water & Sewer Billing: 3,631 bills sent – 768 delinquent notices – 151 water cut-offs for non-payment. Is that right? That number cut-offs sounds way too high.”
Fact: Unfortunately, that is not only the correct number for the most recent month, it also represents the approximate average number of water cut-offs that the city has to do nearly every month – but it is certainly not a duty that city staff enjoys. It adds significantly to their workload and increases costs for other rate payers. However, it is a necessary task and an effective measure to secure full payment of services rendered.
As an Enterprise Fund, the Water & Sewer Fund our goal is to manage it in such a way so that the monthly customer payments are sufficient to pay for all costs associated with providing such services. So, when a customer fails to pay their bill for services received, they are essentially making all other customers pay that bill for them. In order to maintain fairness and the financial integrity of the Water & Sewer Fund, it is imperative that all customers receiving services be current on their bills for same.
The City of Colonial Heights always strives to maintain customer-oriented services, though, and we are always willing to “work with” people in special circumstances. For example, we make extra efforts to not disconnect businesses (especially during business hours); and we also try to identify unique or individual or circumstances that may occur on rare occasions that might affect a customer’s timely payment.
Simply said: It would certainly be our preference to never have to disconnect anyone's water service, but the statistical analyses indicates that with a certain percentage of our customers, cutting off their water service (or the threat thereof) is likely to be the only way to motivate payment.