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Will city residents swing at pitch?

The public will have its first formal opportunity Tuesday night to tell the Fredericksburg City Council what it thinks about a proposal to build a multi-purpose stadium for minor league baseball.

Depending on what the council decides, additional public hearings could follow over the next few months as details of the plan are hashed out.

The Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, have proposed a 30-year lease for a publicly financed, 5,000-seat stadium that would be built at Celebrate Virginia South.

The city may have to issue as much as $33 million in bonds to finance the project. A proposal being considered by the council calls for the bonds to be repaid in large part through a new real estate tax on Central Park and the developed areas of Celebrate Virginia.

Baseball supporters are planning a rally outside City Hall starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, an hour before public hearings are scheduled to start before the council. The rally will include appearances by Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn, as well as minority owner Jeff Nelson, Quinn’s brother-in-law and a former Major League Baseball pitcher.

Former major-leaguer Andrés “The Big Cat” Galarraga, a friend of Quinn’s, will also be at the rally, according to the recently launched website

Click here for an archive of stories on the baseball question.

The baseball public hearing will be the last of five scheduled that night, so it is unclear what time it will start. The council moved up portions of its Tuesday meeting to 5:30 p.m. in an effort to start the hearings earlier.

Those who wish to speak on the topic may address the council for up to five minutes each. Speakers don’t have to sign up in advance. The Council Chambers entrance is on the Hanover Street side of City Hall.

After the baseball hearing, the council could decide to refer to the Planning Commission an amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvements Plan, and approve a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Suns. The council could also appoint two of its members to negotiate a stadium lease with the Suns.

The other public hearings that will proceed the stadium question, in order, are:

  • An application by Jose and Nur Alvarez to rezone their property at 3464 Fall Hill Ave. from residential to commercial–office transitional, with the intent to convert the 1,500-square-foot house to office use. Seven other residential properties in that stretch of Fall Hill near River Road could eventually seek the same change.
  • Two public hearings involve the proposed One Hanover downtown condominium project, a 64,000-square-foot building at the intersection of Hanover and Sophia streets diagonally across from Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site). The proposed five-story, 18-unit riverfront building is 56-feet high. It needs a special-exception permit for being taller than the city’s 50-foot limit and special-use permits for construction in a flood plain and exceeding the site coverage limit under its zoning classification. Mike Adams and Tommy Mitchell, who are developing One Hanover, hope to start construction late this fall and have it completed by the end of 2014. The estimated assessed value following construction is $20 million, which would mean $148,000 in annual real estate tax revenue for the city.
  • The fourth hearing involves a proposed 20-year lease by Energy Extraction Partners LLC on 11 acres of the Rappahannock Regional Landfill off Eskimo Hill Road in central Stafford County, which the city jointly owns and operates with Stafford. EEP plans to build a $73 million, 150,000-square-foot waste-to-energy plant at the landfill that would provide 15 megawatt hours of electricity daily to Dominion Virginia Power through transmission lines already on site. Stafford’s Board of Supervisors previously approved the lease. EEP will pay the Stafford–Fredericksburg authority that operates the landfill $1 million in advance, and $100,000 per year for the lease. The plant is expected to extend the life of the landfill, which would save both Stafford and Fredericksburg money.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5424