Against a backdrop of election-year politics, the Manassas City Council moved this week to enact new hurdles for hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and women’s health clinics that want to expand or open new facilities within the city limits.
Residents on both sides of the abortion debate packed the Manassas City Hall chambers April 27 to watch the council update its 69-year-old zoning ordinance to include new rules for “medical care facilities,” which will likely require special use permits to locate anywhere in the city.
Introducing the measure, Mayor Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II sought to frame the issue as “reasonable land-use regulations” intended to allow the council to consider things like parking lot size, hours of operation and access for emergency vehicles before approving the permits, which are also subject to public hearings.
Parrish, who is the GOP nominee in the hotly contested race to replace retiring Sen. Charles J. Colgan, cast the tie-breaking vote on the issue, joining fellow Republicans Marc Aveni, Vice Mayor Jonathan Way and Councilman Ian Lovejoy in supporting the changes.
Republican Council Members Mark Wolfe and Sheryl Bass joined the panel’s only Democrat, Ken Elston, in opposing the measure. A second reading and vote on the zoning ordinance is scheduled for May 11.
All three of the Democrats competing in the upcoming June 9 primary to run against Parrish in November – Del. Michael Futrell, 2nd, Atif Qarni and Jeremy McPike — were present for the vote and quick to criticize Parrish’s decision.
“He’s created this façade that he’s moderate and he really isn’t,” Qarni said. “And this vote is just an example of that.”
Hal Parrish needs to understand that he just lost himself a lot of votes in the 29th Senate District. He needs to understand that he aided and abetted people who are pushing their own religious agenda down the throats of others. Parrish needs to understand that his gentlemanly ways that have made people like him will not sweet talk voters out of making him pay at the ballot box. I cannot vote for him now.
The same people get up every council meeting whining about the abortion clinic and about their religious beliefs. Most people I know can’t stand to watch the meetings because of the inordinate amount of time spent on this one issue. Some members on the council have encouraged this constant droning, meeting after meeting. Councilman Marc Aveni has a long trail of anti abortion behavior including a continual cross-over between church and chamber rooms, according to some contributors. He is misusing land use and zoning issues to advance his own religious agenda. Aveni apparently feels that the women of Virginia are not capable of making their own morally appropriate decisions. His two anti women side-kicks, Way and Lovejoy apparently agree with him. Now he is joined by Hal Parrish. Does Parrish also believe that deeply personal decisions involving reproduction should be made by the government rather than the woman?
The 29th senate district is being carefully watched by the pro-choice groups because of the many mis-fires from the Colgan camp on the subject of reproductive rights. What Colgan was able to get away with is one thing–he was a champion for many other issues Virginians deem important. Hal Parrish will not be afforded the same luxury. Parrish won’t get a pass for anti choice legislation from the City of Manassas. In fact, he just signed the race over to one of the 3 democrats who are vying for their party’s nod because of his anti-choice position.
It is totally disingenuous to pretend that land use and zoning are the issue here. The entire debate is about stripping away reproductive rights using subterfuge and emotion covered by a thin veneer of “city planning.” Actually, what has happened is poor planning and poor process. The Council went against what was recommended by their own people and should have been voted on, in the open, during a regular session, as reported by Jill Palermo with Inside Nova:
That review led to several staff recommendations, including that the city adopt the medical care facility designation for medical uses that fall between full-fledged hospitals and traditional doctor’s offices in terms of land-use impacts such as parking and traffic.
But the city’s zoning staff and planning commission also recommended that such facilities be allowed “by right” in three of the city’s six commercial zoning districts.
During a work session April 20, however, the council voted 4 to 3 – with Parrish breaking the tie – to instead require medical care facilities obtain special use permits in all areas of the city.
Bass, the council’s only female member, said in an interview Tuesday she was satisfied with the staff’s initial recommendations and was “surprised” by the new proposal, which she called “unnecessary.”
Bass said she was also disappointed that the change was voted on during a work session and not a regular council meeting.
“I don’t consider that transparent,” she said. “It had to with politics … and personal agendas. And unfortunately, that’s not what’s good for the city of Manassas.”
Seriously guys, you should be listening to Councilwoman Bass. She is right and she called out a sneaky Pete move.
Hal Parrish better get used to that seat as mayor of Manassas. He is not going anywhere. He is acting like he is Mayor of Mayberry with that “tie-breaker.” The Mayor of Mayberry just sealed the deal for the Democrats running in the 29th Senate District.
Speaking of those Democrats, they are running hard and fast. We get calls from them daily. I don’t really have a favorite. I did ask each of the campaigns if their candidate was pro-choice. The caller didn’t know in 2 out of the 3 candidates. Ha! Looks like they had better find out real fast because Hal Parrish just made the issue of reproductive rights a real issue in this race.
Atif Qarni is right. Hal Parrish is no moderate, regardless of how he tries to present himself. Moderates don’t vote for anti-choice referendums riding the land use and zoning ticket across the finish line. That moderate faltered at the gate and will remain the Mayor of Mayberry.