Council to decide on permits

Published 9:35 pm Monday, January 6, 2020

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the City Council meeting where these public hearings will take place.

City Council will have the chance to approve conditional use permits for a proposed banquet facility and a daycare facility, both on East Washington Street, at its Feb. 5 meeting.

The first floor of the two-story property for the banquet facility at 127 E. Washington St. has 6,835 square feet and is currently vacant, though it has office spaces, bathrooms and miscellaneous rooms, according to the staff report for the project.

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The second floor is currently being used as commercial office space, and that would not change with the approval. The property is 0.35 acre, and the total square footage is 11,700 for the two stories.

The Planning Commission unanimously recommended the conditional use permit request at its Dec. 17 meeting following the city’s planning staff report recommendation of approval for it.

The banquet facility would go on the ground floor and would include a warming kitchen, bar area, dance floor, dining area with 11 tables and additional lobby space. Parking for the property would be a combination of street parking and nearby public parking.

According to the staff report, the banquet facility would be operated by the applicant, Pamela Dentsen, and owned by Valencia Ballard of Circle of Friends LLC. According to the conditions set forth with the permit, either Ballard or a representative would have to be present during all private events, with Dentsen responsible for all activities at the facility, including alcohol consumption under the authority of a license issued under the laws and regulations of the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. However, a bar, nightclub or other kind of restaurant or public dance hall is not allowed to operate at the facility.

Guests renting the facility would have to supply their own food and beverages, with the applicant providing renters a list of approved vendors and DJs.

If alcohol is to be served, the applicant said the guest renting the banquet facility would have to obtain the required ABC permits from the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The proposed hours of operation for events would be from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. through midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

Council will hold a public hearing on the matter at its Feb. 5 meeting and then is expected to vote on it.

David Hainley, city director of planning and community development, said the city’s police, fire and rescue and city staff would ensure that conditions are met for the use of the banquet facility.

Council will also hold a public hearing at its Feb. 5 meeting on whether to issue a conditional use permit for a proposed daycare center for 361 E. Washington St. that could hold up to 30 children and eight staff members. The daycare, according to the staff report, would be contained to the 2,152-square-foot first floor of the two-story building and would serve children from ages 16 months to 4 years old, with hours from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The daycare would use the Tynes Park city playground at 151 Tynes St., about 40 feet away from the facility.

As part of the conditions for opening the daycare, the applicant would have to either remove or encapsulate the lead paint in the building before the facility opens.

The daycare’s owner, Shamica Bullock, said older children would use a walking rope to get from the daycare facility to the playground, and younger children would be pushed in a buggy.

“I had never heard of using a city park as an outdoor playground for a daycare, but I think that’s very cool, and I think it’s very great,” said Commissioner Johnnie Edwards. “And I hope that this is a model that there’s no need to have city buildings and city facilities that can’t be used for the whole public. I think this is very creative, and I hope that this used in other places.”

The facility would share a parking lot with Metropolitan Baptist Church, whose pastor, Robert L. Hobbs, said the church supports the daycare and “would be an asset to the church and the community and we will work with them in whatever way we can to make this project successful.”