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Danville City Council LIVE! (2/18/14)

“SouthsideCentral is back doing LIVE! coverage. Here’s the rundown from the latest Danville City Council meeting…

6:50 PM – Full house at the meeting.
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7:00 PM – Let’s go. All members present.
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Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce president Laurie Moran recaps the Chamber’s past year and plans for 2014.

Public comment section next…

7:10 PM – Moran wisely says that workforce development is the key to attracting businesses. John Gilstrap asks about tourism’s importance. The Chamber’s on top of that as expected (and that shows why the DPC Chamber is amazing).

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7:15 PM – Buddy Rawley throws a Larry King softball question. Laurie Moran hits it out of the park, aaying that the Chamber is 5-star (top) rated.

7:20 PM – Chamber planning a “Shark Tank” type of program for young entrepreneurs with $5000 in funding. Now to the public comments… And there are none.

7:25 PM – 8 public hearings starting now. We start with a proposal for indoor soccer fields on Goodyear Blvd. Great idea, council is very receptive. William Gentry is behind this initiative.

7:30 PM – Full support for this great idea. 9-0 vote. Now to a Islamic cemetery on Kingoff Drive.

7:35 PM – No Islamic cemetery within 90 minutes around. Spokesman cutting bad rumors down. Muslum rules of burial are within 24 hours. No markers, no nameplates unless family requests. This is a good idea and would show Danville’s commitment to diversity.

7:40 PM – Questions continue. Planning Commission recommended by 7-0 vote.
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Lee Vogler asks a question.

Muslim burials here will use caskets. Vaults not required for private cemeteries including this one. Cemetery plots will be free to the Muslim cemetery. John Gilstrap asks why they don’t use city cemeteries. Facepalm.

7:50 PM – Landowner near the proposed site speaking now, talking about property values. He says he believes that property values are decreasing because of the cemetery proposal. He’s not going against it because of Islamic things.

8:00 PM – Larry Campbell challenges the landowner on property values going down if the cemetery is allowed. Lee Vogler challenges more of the speaker’s points.

8:05 PM – New speaker. He lives on the proposed cemetery’s road, supporting the cemetery.
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Another speaker in favor of the cemetery. Mayor Sherman Saunders is speeding them along in his polite way. Another speaker in favor. He talks on difficulties getting Muslim burial plots.

8:15 PM – Lexington Ave. resident saying that she represents 24 residents (who are not here) is strongly against the cemetery. Says its not about religion… I’m not quite believing her for some reason.

8:25 PM – Same speaker drones on. Saunders is getting a tad snippy. Gary Miller shreds her with one question. Beautiful work by Miller. Now Gilstrap takes her on and continues the shredding. This is becoming a cross-examination and it’s getting hilarious. Buddy Rawley steps up to the plate and swings.

8:35 PM – Wife of the first speaker that was against the cemetery now takes her turn. Most passionate speaker so far, calls it “dead wrong”. Ugh.

8:45 PM – Public hearing over. Council now discussing.

8:55 PM – Council can restrict the special use permit, but can’t legislate more than state cemetery requirements.

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Adam Tomer & Lee Vogler declare support.

Motion passes 9-0. Yeah!

9:15 PM – We’re back after the recess. Watch Council go into express mode now.

Technical Note: Once the meeting is over, we’ll head for home & clean this article up with editing.

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9:20 PM – Fred Shanks makes a fair point against spot zoning even though it would be allowed in this situation. We’re heading to around the horn time, where council members and staff get to speak.

9:30 PM – Around the horn. City Manager thanks Public Works and all city employees for the work during the snowstorm. John Gilstrap announces run for reelection. More comments in progress.

We’ll sign off for now. Thanks for reading SouthsideCentral!”

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