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Baseball deal to take council into extra innings?

COMPLETE COVERAGE: View all related stories and images on the Fredericksburg baseball proposal

Fredericksburg City Council and baseball enthusiasts could be in for a long night.

The council has scheduled five public hearings beginning at 7 p.m. this evening with the proposal to build a publicly funded multipurpose stadium in the city coming up last.

Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw estimated four of the issues could be heard as early as 8 p.m., but acknowledged the council may need to vote to suspend its rules—the step needed to continue beyond 11 p.m.—to get in all five hearings.

Greenlaw declined to guess how long the meeting might last.

At public hearings, each speaker is allowed up to five minutes to provide input so that’s 12 people per hour.

Two of the issues on the agenda have generated little public debate and are expected to move quickly.

One Hanover, a condominium project at the intersection of Hanover and Sophia streets, is on the agenda for two matters and could take roughly an hour with public input and the presentation on the project.

The proposal to build a five-story building overlooking the Rappahannock River has generated some concerns.

With a baseball rally before the public hearings and much buzz about the prospect of the city becoming home to the minor league Hagerstown Suns, the council expects a large turnout on the stadium proposal.

Plans have been made so people who don’t fit into Council Chambers can watch the meeting from two conference rooms on the second floor of City Hall until it’s their turn to speak.

The stadium issue was placed last on the agenda for a number of reasons, Greenlaw and City Manager Bev Cameron said.

Greenlaw said it’s more courteous to handle the less time-consuming hearings first so people interested in them aren’t forced to wait through the stadium discussion.

The other matters also came to the council first, Cameron said.

Last month, the council considered asking applicants to delay consideration of their issues until August but recognized each has deadlines.

The council moved up action items tonight to 5:30 p.m., the time council normally meets in a work session. The public hearings start half an hour earlier than regular meetings.

The Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, want to get a stadium built in time for the 2015 season, so its timeline didn’t allow for delaying consideration of its proposal until next month.

The council generally meets just once in July.

With vacations and other plans already in place before the stadium timeline became an issue, some council members didn’t have flexibility to add a second regular meeting to this month’s schedule.

Councilwoman Kerry Devine will miss tonight’s meeting because she’s out of town for training related to her job as a city teacher.

Her absence leaves six members to deliberate this evening. That means any motions that result in a 3–3 vote will fail.

On the baseball issue tonight, the council will hear from the public about whether the city should commit to financing construction of a $29.5 million stadium.

The council could vote to end consideration of the proposal, table the matter or vote to refer it to the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission would then consider whether to amend the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvements Plan to accommodate the project. Commissioners also would hold a public hearing before making their recommendation to the council.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972

pgould@freelancestar.com

BASEBALL BASICS

Key facts regarding a preliminary proposal for Minor League Baseball and a multipurpose stadium.

WHO: The Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

WHAT’S NEEDED: The Suns want a 5,000-seat multipurpose stadium that would have a construction cost cap of $29.5 million.

WHERE: Two possible sites along Interstate 95 in Celebrate Virginia South are being discussed: 38 acres where the U.S. National Slavery Museum was to have been built and a 22-acre site off Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard where the road dead-ends.

STADIUM USES: The facility proposed by the Suns would host concerts, festivals, car shows and, potentially, professional soccer and lacrosse, in addition to Minor League Baseball. The proposal includes a restaurant that would be open year-round, an arcade, swimming pool and dog park.

INITIAL FUNDING

Hagerstown Suns: would provide $3 million for the city to purchase land for the stadium.

City of Fredericksburg: would finance construction of the stadium over 30 years possibly through general obligation bonds totaling as much as $33 million.

REPAYING THE DEBT

Hagerstown Suns would: 

•Lease the stadium for 30 years, paying the city $105,000 annually.

•Split the stadium naming rights revenue 50–50 with the city.

Annually contribute 15 percent of the team’s net profits above $700,000.

City of Fredericksburg would: owe an estimated $2 million to $2.5 million annually to pay off the debt.

Properties in Celebrate Virginia South and Central Park would: become part of a special tax district and pay as much as 32 cents per $100 of assessed value in addition to their city real estate taxes until the debt is paid.

—Bill Freehling and Pamela Gould

 

PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULE: 

Five public hearings are scheduled back to back starting at 7 p.m. tonight in City Hall, Council Chambers, 715 Princess Anne St. The City Council agenda lists them as coming up in the following order.

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.

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. The Stafford Board of Supervisors previously approved the lease.

The last public hearing is the proposal to build a $29.5 million multipurpose stadium in Celebrate Virginia South. The stadium would be home to the Hagerstown Suns, a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Council may vote

to refer the proposal to the Planning Commission for amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvements Plan, and for a public hearing and its recommendation.

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