When the Charlottesville Planning Commission gathered for their monthly meeting on November 13, 2007, they expected to have a discussion regarding the proposed Downtown Mall Crossing in terms of whether or not it should stay at Fourth Street or move one block east to Fifth Street. As far as they were concerned,
City Council had voted in June to make the Mall Crossing permanent
, so the Planning Commission’s dialogue only needed to focus on its exact location.
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Upon reaching that agenda item, however, Charlottesville’s Director of Neighborhood Services Jim Tolbert informed the Commission that City staff preferred that the Planning Commission not discuss the topic after all. He came before the Commission, not to give his scheduled report on the matter, but to instead declare that there was a great deal of confusion about what was being discussed. According to Tolbert, City staffers had come to the conclusion that, in their last discussion, Council did not vote but rather deferred the issue to the Planning Commission.
The City Councilors themselves disagree, and all believe that they did cast votes with the ultimate decision to maintain an East End Mall Crossing. Despite the assurance from the voting body that “they did in fact vote and are wondering why we are having this discussion,” Mr. Tolbert remained adamant that the agenda item be deferred until after he could “get straight with exactly what Council did with their previous discussion.” He waved off the timeliness of the matter with a nod towards the currently functioning Fourth Street crossing, and also told the Planning Commission that he intended to have engineers present at the next Mall crossing discussion.
Planning Commission Chair Bill Lucy’s response was that “the analysis of the 4th and 5th street options… really would warrant a work session,” so he would respect the request to delay the Mall Crossing item. Furthermore, Lucy also brought up another new issue with the mention of ultimately adding more than one mall crossing: “Some of the arguments that have been made for a crossing would apply equally, and in fact more so, to two, or three, or four, or five more crossings. I do think it really would be inappropriate for us not to at some time confront those additional issues.”