Below is a summary of the September 26th Martinsville City Council meeting.
New City Manager Appointed
During a recent closed meeting of the Martinsville City Council, Ms. Aretha Ferrell-Benavides was appointed as the new City Manager. Ms. Ferrell-Benavides, who previously served as City Manager in Duncanville, TX, as well as in Petersburg, VA, and Glenn Heights, TX, expressed her enthusiasm for the community's vision of good governance and enhancing residents' quality of life.
“The City Council has a great vision for the community that is focused on good government and enhancing the quality of life for residents,” said Ms. Ferrell-Benavides. “I particularly look forward to working with local and regional partners on important revitalization and economic development projects. I appreciate the confidence that the Council has shown in me. I am looking forward to getting settled in the city and getting to know and serve the employees and citizens Martinsville,” she continued.
Ms. Ferrell-Benavides is expected to begin her new role in October.
Read more about Ms. Ferrell-Benavides here.
City Ordinance Passed for Speed Enforcement in School Zones
Martinsville's Chief of Police, Rob Fincher, presented concerning data to council members regarding speeding in school zones, particularly during school hours.
Data collected by Blue Line Solutions, LLC, highlighted a troubling increase in speed violations within these zones. To address this pressing issue, Chief Fincher recommended the passage of an ordinance enabling camera-based speed monitoring and enforcement in school zones. He shared statistics from other localities that implemented similar ordinances, showing a 94% reduction in violations.
According to the ordinance, violations will result in civil penalties without impacting driving records, with a fine of $100 per violation. Vehicle owners will have the right to contest these violations before a judge. Chief Fincher emphasized that the Police Department's primary objective is to enhance safety by reducing violations. Learn more about how the speed monitors operate here.
Presentation on Building Code and Safety
The City of Martinsville recently achieved an outstanding Insurance Services Organization (ISO) Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS) rating of 2 in both residential and commercial categories. This remarkable rating positions the city among the top 5% of building departments nationwide.
Building Official and Zoning Administrator Kris Bridges provided valuable insights to the Council, explaining the profound impact of this rating on home insurance rates and its contribution to mitigating the rising cost of home insurance. Bridges also highlighted the city's attainment of benchmarks set by the Alliance for National and Community Resilience (ANCR), positioning Martinsville favorably to secure grants related to energy, sustainability, resilience, and affordable housing.
The presentation are available here: Alliance for National and Community Resilience, Insurance Services Organization (ISO) Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule
Council Approves Industrial Revitalization Funds for One Ellsworth Project
The City Council passed a resolution granting Interim City Manager Glen Adams the authority to apply for up to $3.5 million in Industrial Revitalization Funds for the One Ellsworth Project. This ambitious project aims to redevelop the old BB&T building into mixed-use housing and commercial spaces. If the funding is secured, Martinsville will receive the grant funding and administer it as a loan to the developers.
City Council Sets Hearing for C-Pace Program Participation
The City Council scheduled a public hearing to consider Martinsville's participation in the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program (C-PACE).
This innovative financing tool empowers building owners and developers to finance energy-efficient, renewable energy, and water-saving property enhancements without incurring upfront costs.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Passed Between MRHA and DRHA
The City Council, convening as the Martinsville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (MRHA), approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority (DRHA).
The MRHA intends to apply for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development's Acquire, Renovate, Sell program. To execute this program within the city, the MRHA will leverage the services and expertise of the DRHA.
This program, known as ARS, aims to transform previously undervalued homes into community assets and create new homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income first-time buyers.
City Council appointed Martha Wickliffe to the Citizen Advisory Board (Southside) for a three-year term ending on April 30, 2026.