Ed. — From the Sunday, May 9, print edition.
OCEANFRONT — Due to restrictions on gatherings related to the pandemic, the Virginia Beach City Council has been meeting at the Virginia Beach Convention Center rather than back in the cozy confines of City Hall.
That could change in July. Vice Mayor Jim Wood raised the topic during an informal session held at the convention center on Tuesday, May 4.
“We’ve been at the convention center for a while,” said Wood, who represents the Lynnhaven District, “and there’s been a number of requests to potentially move back to City Hall. I think, with advertising and notifications and everything, we could look at probably the first meeting in July.”
City Clerk Amanda Barnes said the council could consider moving back earlier, though upcoming discussions about short-term rentals, a hot topic, might be better suited to the spacious convention center. Wood asked his council colleagues about moving back.
“I see a lot of heads nodding yes,” the vice mayor said. “Does anybody not want to move back?”
City Councilmember Aaron Rouse, who holds an at-large seat, asked about parking at the municipal center and noted construction of the new City Hall. The area where councilmembers park, for example, in now closed off. He said he would prefer to remain at the convention center, but is open to returning to City Hall, too.
City Manager Patrick Duhaney said the parking area should have space for the public, especially during regular meetings that occur during evening hours. He said windows can be opened in the chamber now that weather is warmer and social distancing would be in place. Perhaps 25 seats for the public would be available in the chamber, with additional seating in a lobby area.
Mayor Bobby Dyer said mayors are working with Gov. Ralph Northam about adjusting restrictions now that conditions related to the novel coronavirus are improving.
City Councilmember John Moss, who holds an at-large seat, also asked for more information about how informal sessions normally held during the afternoon in a conference room would be handled to provide public seating.
“I think it would be wonderful to get back to the municipal center,” City Councilmember Barbara Henley, who represents the Princess Anne District, said.
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