The city of Suffolk has issued a violation notice to a developer for removing trees that were not authorized. The once-dense area is shown behind this construction scene.

Archived Story

City issues violations to developer

Published 11:36pm Friday, February 8, 2013

The city of Suffolk has issued two notices of violation and a stop-work order to a local developer it says removed too much vegetation near a waterway without the prior approval of the city.

The violations occurred along River Watch Drive and Saint Martin Drive in the River Bluff subdivision near Hillpoint Elementary School. The once-dense area now allows a clear view of the Nansemond River with only a few trees left.

The developer, Parker Crossing LLC, will be asked to submit a revised buffer restoration plan that shows how it will compensate for the lost trees.

“The buffer is so important because it acts as a filter,” Nansemond River Preservation Alliance executive director Elizabeth Taraski said. “You’re filtering out sediment and nutrients” from the rainwater that is draining to the river.

But the alliance says the city took no action on the problem for months. It only issued the first notice of violation after the alliance drafted a formal complaint to be sent to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

But rather than send the complaint to the state, the alliance sent it to the city to demonstrate its seriousness about the matter, according to a letter accompanying the draft complaint, which was sent in December.

“It has always been the intention of NRPA to cooperate with the city,” states the letter from Jack Eure, who was then chairman of the shoreline committee but left that position shortly thereafter, “to improve water quality in the Nansemond River and tributaries, and thereby to improve the quality of life for all of our citizens, present and future, as well as the health of the Chesapeake Bay. It is our hope that this letter and the draft complaint will be reviewed and considered as constructive criticism.”

The alliance first sent a letter to the city about the situation in early October. A return letter from Planning Director Scott Mills “did not address many of our concerns,” the December letter states.

Taraski said the alliance felt drafting the complaint was the only way to get the city to act.

“We felt that this time we wanted to put this as a really high priority,” she said. “We’re just pleased that the city is moving forward and taking action.”

After the first notice was issued on Jan. 16, alliance representatives met with the city and encouraged them to visit the site again, believing they would find even more trees gone. The city found it was true and issued another violation on Jan. 30.

A visit to the site on Feb. 1 found work going on at nearby houses under construction, though the work did not involve removal of any vegetation. Small trees and shrubs have been planted in the backyards of some homes that back up to the river.

The developer did not return a call seeking comment.

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