Fredericksburg eyes switching Ward 3 polling place back to Walker-Grant

If you had trouble finding a parking place so you could vote at Lafayette Upper Elementary School on Election Day, city officials feel your pain.

City Council will hold a public hearing on changing the Ward 3 polling place back to Walker–Grant Middle School, which has a larger parking lot, when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.

Council members will need to take two votes on the change before February. The Code of Virginia prohibits adjustments to polling places from Feb. 1, 2019 to May 15, 2021 while the decennial census and redistricting are taking place. If approved, the relocation would be in effect for the 2019–2021 elections.

Ward 3 is the third largest of Fredericksburg's four wards. It had 4,200 registered voters as of Nov. 11, and 1,964 turned out for the Nov. 6 elections.

They cast their ballots in LUES's gym because the space at Walker–Grant that had been used as a polling place was being renovated. The middle school had been used as the Ward 3 polling place until April, 2017.

Fredericksburg's electoral board met with school officials after the Nov. 6 elections, and all agreed that the polling place should return to Walker-Grant. Not only does the middle school have more parking spaces, but the polling place there is easier to manage and the two rooms available for elections are better suited for use as a polling place. There also is more space in front of the school for candidates and their supporters to meet voters and hand out sample ballots.

City Council will also hold two public hearings Tuesday that involve Medicorp Properties Inc. One would amend its lease with the city to allow a sign for Mary Washington Hospital to be built in the public right-of-way on the west side of Jefferson Davis Highway at its intersection with Mary Washington Boulevard. The new sign would replace one that had been removed at the city's request as part of the Fall Hill Avenue Widening/Mary Washington Boulevard Extension project.

The other public hearing is for a special exception to install the 15.75 foot-tall illuminated sign, which would exceed the permitted height by 5.75 feet and reduce setbacks. The proposed sign is generally consistent with the sizes and heights of existing signage of commercial zoning districts along the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor. The CVS sign across Mary Washington Boulevard, for example, is 15 feet tall.

The new MWH sign would replace two temporary signs installed in the right-of-way on either side of Jefferson Davis Highway after Fall Hill Avenue was widened and Mary Washington Boulevard was extended.

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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