The next City Council meeting is Monday, December 7 at 6:45pm at the new CityWorks building (in the large conference room on the first floor). You can find a copy of the agenda here.

At the beginning of the meeting, we will take care of some administrative items dealing with our meeting schedule and committee appointments for 2021. The most significant change is a shift in our regular meeting time from 6:45pm to 6:00pm (still meeting on Mondays). The thought here is that meetings that start earlier can also end earlier while still starting the meetings at a time when people can attend (or tune in) after the regular work day.

We will also be conducting a public hearing and considering an ordinance that will increase the side setbacks of new single-family homes. The current ordinance sets the minimum setback at 20% of the lot width, with a minimum space between houses of 6 feet for homes on an alley lot and 11 feet for homes on a street lot. The proposed change sets the minimum distance between houses at 10 feet (or 20% of lot width, whichever is greater) for alley lots and 12 feet (or 20% of lot width, whichever is greater) for street lots.

I think this change will do a lot to address the concerns I have heard about the compactness of newer neighborhoods. The extra space between houses should help reduce the “crowded” feeling that some of these developments have and improve the look, feel, and livability of new neighborhoods. Of course, I welcome your input, and you can feel free to let me know what you think or you can present your comments during the public hearing on Monday.

We will also be considering some changes to the McLean Development (designating an additional section as a low-impact area) and approving some changes to the trail system in the Morgan’s Branch Development.

There is also a Facade Enhancement Grant application from KBN Interiors for their new location at 331 Catawba Street. They have applied for a $2,500 grant, and you can find the details (including a rendering) here.

Also, note that we will not be having a workshop this month in order to give everyone a bit of a break before Christmas.

An update from our meeting on Monday:

We ended up just meeting with the Main Street Board. The Environmental Sustainability Board requested that we postpone our meeting with them, but we did have a very productive conversation with the Main Street Board. They gave a presentation on several of the initiatives they have been working on this year, including the Keep the Lights On campaign, the utility box wrap art, and Trains on Main.

We also talked about the Façade Enhancement Grant program (which provides grants from the City to restore/upgrade building facades in the downtown district). Council discussed the possibility of making changes to this program in the future to ensure that the criteria for the program align with downtown’s current needs. For my own part, I suggested that grant applications that seek funding for things like wall art (on the side of a building) or more permanent façade improvements (such as upfitting or repairing a brick façade) would be a better use of funds versus grants for more temporary improvements (for things like building canopies, etc.).

The dog park initiative was also a key discussion point, and we encouraged the Main Street Board to continue collaborating with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on that project.

We also had a good conversation around public art and a general desire to see more of it. Given the expense involved with these sorts of projects, the Main Street Board indicated that they would look into the availability of non-public funds (grants, etc.) for public art projects.

All around a good conversation. I think check-ins like this with the advisory boards are a good way to keep everyone rowing in the same direction, so I look forward to doing more of these in the future.