- City Council
- For the Record
For the Record
People in Hampton have a lot of questions about what their government is or isn't doing. For the Record is a place to gather those questions and provide answers. We want more people to understand the facts -- what has been done, what is being done, what isn't being done -- as well as the rationale behind the city's position. Whether you want a short, quick explanation in a video clip or a longer, in-depth study of an issue, look here as we roll out topics throughout the year.
Have a question you want answered? Email it to us.
A company has submitted a bid to build an aquatics center for the city. The bid uses a special process set up by a state law called the Public Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002. For the record, Hampton has decided to move forward with the process. That does not mean we are accepting the bid or building exactly what was proposed. It means the city is interested in seeing whether this or another company can build an aquatics center – approved previously by City Council – that will deliver the features the city wants for residents and tourists at an acceptable price.
Quality Inn purchase
Hampton isn't directly buying the older hotel on Coliseum Drive; it’s being bought by the Economic Development Authority. Governed by a citizen board, the EDA is charged with administering land sales and development. The board approved the purchase of the Quality Inn at its meeting Sept. 18.
Signs can be helpful guideposts, visual clutter or a distraction to drivers, depending on where they are and what they look like. Hampton has a series of rules on what kinds of signs are and aren’t allowed.
Some city streets can be a rough ride, especially after a long winter of freezing and thawing — or a summer of heat and heavy traffic. For the record, the city is responsible for deciding which streets are repaved and when. But it's the state that sets the budget for repaving based on the amount of each city's roadways.
When a hurricane, snowstorm or other disaster threatens, stay up-to-date with the latest local information. For the record, you can get information in a variety of ways.
Dog leash laws
When you take your dog for a walk, you are required to use a leash. For the Record, City Council changed the law last year, and using voice commands to control your pet is no longer sufficient on public property.
When it comes to hurricanes or other natural disasters, the city’s top priority is protecting lives. For the record, city staff make plans for a range of options, depending on the type of storm, from opening a day shelter to partnering with other localities to shelter residents outside of Hampton.
Beach water testing
Weekly water tests are performed at Hampton’s public beaches to ensure that they meet the state water quality standards for swimming. For the record, the public will only know the results if there’s a problem. There were only three alerts between 2012 and 2017. However, there have been two issues this year, one from a commercial dumping of fish.
Food handling rules
New food-handling rules will affect fundraising groups that cook and sell items such as hamburgers, chili, fried fish or roasted oysters. To reduce foodborne illnesses, the state Health Department is requiring groups to have a certified food protection manager if they are cooking animal products. For the record, beginning July 1, Little Leagues, swim teams, football boosters and other groups have two choices: Someone can take a course and become certified – at a cost of about $150 – or they can switch to selling pre-cooked meats (including hot dogs).
Defending against mosquitoes takes a concerted effort by the city’s seven-member mosquito team, as well as each one of us. For the record, the city focuses on the use of bio-larvicides, which are made of naturally occurring bacteria that keep juvenile mosquitoes from developing. Ultra-low-volume truck-mounted sprays are used when necessary.
The city of Hampton requires you to cut the grass in your yard, as well as in the adjacent city right-of-way. Except when we don’t want you to. For the record, here are the rules: Don’t let the grass (or weeds) in your yard get higher than 8 inches tall. You are also responsible for cutting grass on the city right-of-way that is next to your property — the part right up to the street or the midway point of an adjacent alley.
Hampton joined the rest of the region in imposing a tax on recreational vehicles, and the first bills will be due in June. Eighty-six percent of Hampton residents who participated in the budget input supported an RV tax. Not surprisingly, owners of RVs were opposed. The tax — at $1.50 per $100 of value — would begin with tax bills due in June 2018.
Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting's proposed budget for FY19 adds funding in three key areas: fighting crime, boosting education and supporting employees. It does that without a tax increase. For the record, Bunting proposed a FY19 budget that totals $471 million, an increase of just 0.71 percent. Of that, 43 percent will go to the school system and 57 percent will go toward city and all other expenses.
For the record, zoning is required of all localities in Virginia. Zoning districts also help the city allocate resources, infrastructure and services efficiently by concentrating commercial areas and other high-traffic uses near major roads. If all the tall office buildings are concentrated in one or two districts, for example, the city will need fewer tall ladder firetrucks and can position them close to where they are needed.
In most cities, developing a city budget is an internal process, and residents can’t weigh in until formal public hearings are held before a city council. For the record, Mary Bunting opened up the process when she became Hampton’s city manager.
Hampton experiences both rainfall flooding, from heavy and intense storms, and tidal flooding, from storm systems that essentially push water from the ocean and the bay into rivers and ditches. Because many parts of the city are low-lying, there just aren’t many places for the water to go.
Coyotes have been in Hampton Roads for years. However, there’s been an uptick in sightings lately, and some residents are worried.
Residents who have been keeping broken-down cars on their property need to either get rid of them or get working on them.
What is the city doing about homelessness in the area? Hampton participates in the Greater Virginia Peninsula Homelessness Consortium, which gathers governments and non-profits in the region to work together to reduce homelessness.
Hampton was the setting for the nationally acclaimed book and movie “Hidden Figures,” the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and other African-American female mathematicians who helped NASA get to the moon. And Hampton continues to get national attention.
Retail: Entertainment & Restaurants
A Sky Zone indoor trampoline entertainment center is headed to Peninsula Town Center, helping to meet demand for more family entertainment. Still, city officials hear frequent requests for specific, large, sought-after chain restaurants and entertainment venues.
Chesapeake Bay zones
For the record, it’s property owners’ responsibility to know if their land falls into one of three Chesapeake Bay protection zones — whether they’ve owned the property for decades or are buying new.
Hampton has been awarded more than $11 million dollars over the past five years from the federal and state governments to help homeowners elevate homes that have seen repeated flooding. For the record, the program is set up to save the federal government money by reducing future flood insurance claims.
Why is the city buying the Boo Williams Sportsplex? The Sportsplex has generated tourism and tax revenue for Hampton for 10 years, as it brings in sports players and their families for weekend tournaments. However, the partners who paid for and own the building want to sell. For the record, the city doesn’t want to lose that annual economic activity, placed at more than $9 million in a study commissioned by the facility.
What can the city do about panhandling? For the record, very little. Courts have ruled that asking for money is free speech, a basic Constitutional right. The city is putting up signs in areas frequented by panhandlers to make sure they know how to get services if they are truly homeless.
Is there a secret plan for development in Downtown Hampton? There’s no secret plan, but the downtown area has been generating a lot of interest. Most recently, an experienced development group has submitted a proposal for downtown projects on several pieces of publicly owned land.
Rumors have been swirling about Willow Oaks Shopping Center – that it’s losing tenants, that it appears rundown, and that it might be converted into apartments. What’s really going on?
More uniformed police officers patrolling the streets. Increased community outreach. Tougher prosecution. A new high-tech crime center. These are just some of the tools in use now — or planned for the near future — to combat crime in Hampton.