NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - A surprise move from Newport News City Council has a local business owner raising concerns.
WAVY.com was there in September when the Crystal Sawyer's Conditional Use Permit was approved for a restaurant and lounge on Jefferson Avenue. She faced some opposition before the vote because some feared the business could bring crime to the area. But after getting the "green light" for the lounge, she didn't have long to celebrate.
Sawyer contacted 10 On Your Side after one of the same council members that voted in favor of her lounge suddenly had a change of heart.
“It has opened my eyes to a lot of things that are going on, and you think you just see on TV, but it's real,” said Crystal Sawyer.
Councilman Robert Coleman sent a letter to his colleagues on Newport News City Council nine days after what Sawyer thought was a hard fought victory. At the September 24 meeting, Coleman was a "yes" vote, but now Coleman cites a section of the City Code that permits reconsideration of an ordinance with proper notice by someone on the prevailing side.
“I was very disappointed in the councilman because I did not see this coming,” Sawyer said.
WAVY.com reached out to Councilman Coleman and never heard back from him. Sawyer’s attorney says he’s never seen anything like what’s taking place.
“I'd be very interested to see what's revealed about who contacted who because clearly something went on after that meeting was held,” said attorney Kevin E. Martingayle. “I think there are some serious politics at work. I think this runs the risk of giving the Newport News City Council a very tarnished reputation.”
At least one councilwoman says she's shocked at what's happening too.
“To think we have a council member who is not going through with what he said he's going to do is disappointing,” said Councilwoman Tina Vick.
Once again, Crystal's dreams are on hold. On Tuesday, Council will debate the proposed lounge again. They can decide if this issue should come up for a vote once more at a later date.
Councilwoman Vick said she's hoping they have enough votes to put this to rest and let Crystal open her business. Vice Mayor Bateman who was a "no" vote in September says he intends to stay that way.
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