PORTSMOUTH — Mayor Jack Blalock says he will ask the City Council on Monday to postpone a planned vote on the city’s application to the National Park Service to redevelop the McIntyre Federal Building with its development partners Redgate/Kane.

Blalock said he thinks the vote on the application should be delayed until the City Council can schedule and hold a public hearing on a petition organized by the citizen group Revisit McIntyre signed by more than 600 city residents.

Asked about the number of people who signed the petition, Blalock said, “I think it’s a significant number and certainly we should give them an opportunity for a public hearing.”

His comments Wednesday evening come a day after he said he thought the vote on the application would take place Monday.

“I think it would be prudent and certainly wise to have the public hearing on the petition before the council votes on the application,” Blalock said Wednesday. "I’ve talked to two other councilors who feel the same way.”

Told about Blalock’s plan to delay the vote on the application, Michael Simchik, one of the leaders of Revisit McIntyre, commended the mayor for his decision.

“I think that’s democracy at its best and how the system should work,” he said Wednesday evening. “I’m glad the mayor is doing the right thing.”

The petition, which was filed with City Clerk Kelli Barnaby at the end of June, calls for the City Council to repeal the city’s actions to date on the redevelopment and to start a new public-vetting process.

It specifically says signatories seek a repeal of “all votes establishing the current public process for development of the McIntyre property” and a repeal of all votes “selecting Redgate/Kane as the city’s redevelopment partner.” It also asks for a repeal of “all votes selecting a public-private partnership model for acquiring and developing the McIntyre property.”

The petition further asks the council to “pass a measure establishing a new public-consultation process for the development of the McIntyre property.”

The petition was signed by 655 people.

Barnaby told Paul McEachern, the attorney for Revisit McIntyre, that she had verified that 601 people who signed the petition were registered voters in Portsmouth.

That met the threshold of more than 10 percent of the people who voted in the last election, McEachern said.

Blalock believes “all the councilors are prepared to listen” to what the petitioners have to say at the yet to be scheduled public hearing.

“A lot of people have said that we’re not listening, but we have been,” Blalock said. “We don’t always agree with what’s being said.”

The city is working to redevelop the property through the Historic Monument Program. If its application is approved by the National Park Service, which administers the program, Portsmouth can get the 2.1-acre property in the heart of downtown for free from the General Services Administration, which owns it.

Under the terms of the deal the city must retain the federal building.

Redgate/Kane’s plan calls for building two new mixed-use buildings with commercial and retail on the first floor, and 76 high-end apartments above. Fifty-eight of the apartments would be one-bedroom and 18 would be two-bedroom. There would be a total of 92 covered parking spaces. The average rent for the apartments will be $2,975 a month, according to the developers.

Both Blalock and City Attorney Robert Sullivan said the Revisit McIntyre petition will be on the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

The City Council is required by city charter to schedule a public hearing on the petition, Sullivan said.

The city charter also requires the council “to take a vote on what the petition asks them to do,” Sullivan said.

He added that the council can not schedule the public hearing until a later date after Monday’s council meeting.

“There’s a notice provision that precedes the public hearing,” Sullivan added.

After the public hearing, the City Council can then vote on what the petition asks them to address, Sullivan said.

Any action on the petition, Sullivan said, will be taken solely by the City Council.

“The filing of the petition does not lead under the terms of the charter to a ballot question or referendum,” Sullivan said.

The number of signatures the group received on the petition “is an indicator of the public sentiment toward what’s going on,” McEachern said.

“The us-versus-them posture of the council is something kind of new to me,” McEachern said Wednesday before Blalock announced he would be seeking a delay in the vote on the NPS application. “From what I’ve observed councilors have some sort of bunker mentality and they treat citizens like some sort of enemies.”

“We’re not the enemy, we want what’s best for the city, and I presume the councilors do, too,” McEachern added.

Blalock said he has asked the city attorney to be able to speak Monday on how quickly the public hearing on the petition has to be scheduled.

The next regular council meeting after Monday’s meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12, Blalock said.

The regular portion of the council meeting this Monday is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be held in City Council Chambers in City Hall.