Council OKs community, car-tax break
Hopewell councilors unanimously approve Francisco Landing project, car-tax break for disabled vets
HOPEWELL — Lost in the shadow of the controversy of Tuesday night’s City Council adjournment was the fact that during the meeting, councilors unanimously approved the $39.6 million Francisco Landing multi-use community and a car-tax break for disabled veterans who live in the city.
Last week’s council meeting ended in a verbal altercation between Mayor Jackie M. Shornak and Councilor Anthony J. Zevgolis that prompted Zevgolis to threaten to put Shornak in jail over as-yet unsubstantiated claims of a state police investigation into alleged malfeasance of office on Shornak’s part. Shornak has denied ever being investigated.
The situation became so tense that Shornak called police because she said she felt intimidated by Zevgolis. No charges have been filed.
The Francisco Landing project will be built on the old Patrick Copeland School site between Appomattox Street and the confluence of the Appomattox and James rivers. Plans call for it to have 180 apartments, two designated retail areas, an amphitheatre and boat-traffic access. Additionally, the development would also include a “green space” that would be made available for public use.
Assistant City Manager Charles F. Dane told council that the developers of the project have a personal interest in the project. Their great-great-great-grandfather was Peter Francisco, a hero of the American Revolution with roots to the City Point area.
The ordinance given final approval will allow for complete tax relief “on one vehicle owned and regularly used by a veteran who has either lost or lost the use of of one or both legs, or an arm or a hand.” The disability, which also includes blindness, must meet standards set by the state Department of Veterans that the disability was caused by the veteran’s military service.
In passing the ordinance, Hopewell becomes the first locality in the Tri-City area to offer complete tax relief for disabled veterans on one car in their name.
In neighboring Prince George County, disabledveteran residents are entitled to a 50 percent tax break on one vehicle as long as they also qualify for the state-backed real estate tax relief. Just like in Hopewell, the vehicle’s title must be in that person’s name in order to get the break.
Fort Lee borders on Hopewell and Petersburg but is located entirely in Prince George County.
Other localities in the TriCity area say they support the state program for real estate relief but they do not have a specific carve-out for disabled veterans.
The proposal also would extend to the surviving spouse of a deceased disabled veteran, as long as that spouse does not remarry while living in Hopewell.
Bill Atkinson can be reached at 804-722-5167 or batkin[email protected]gressindex.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinsonpi.