Fredericksburg City Beat

This blog includes news about City Hall, city schools and other 22401 news.

Pamela Gould reports on City Hall. You can reach her at 540-735-1972 or Robyn Sidersky reports on city schools. You can reach her at 540-374-5413 or

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Council sends big-houses rules back to Planning Commission. Again.

After hearing mostly supportive comments from the public tonight (as opposed to the first part of this public hearing) council members voted to separate out the part of the ordinance that deals with how big front, back and side yards must be (“setbacks” in governmentese), to bring that part back for consideration in two weeks, and to send the rest of the proposed ordinance back to the Planning Commission for review.

Council members George Solley and Kerry Devine both said, as they have throughout this process, that they don’t think the proposed rules do enough to preserve the distinct character of individual neighborhoods.

“Every time we discuss this we talk about maintaining the character of our neighborhoods, and I think that’s where we fall a little short with this ordinance,” Devine said. “Our goal is to maintain the character of those neighborhoods, which are different. They have distinct characteristics.”

Councilman Matt Kelly cast the only vote against this course of action. He said he thought the proposed rules, which would treat all residential districts in the city the same, are the product of a lot of deliberation by city staff and planners, and are the most workable approach to the perceived problem.

“Our track record on this particular issue, in a word, is abysmal. It should not have taken three years for us to get to this point and have this discussion,” he said.

He got no second on his motion to approve it.

Councilman Brad Ellis said he would support Solley and Devine’s approach, which would look at the average height and mass of houses in specific city blocks to set limits. But he then said that he isn’t sure he likes the idea of those limits.

“This seems like it’s government meddling into individual property rights. I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do,” he said. “It seems kind of counter to American ideals.”

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