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.