Archived Story

Habitat decision again delayed

Published 10:45pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Planning Commission on Tuesday once again delayed a decision on a proposed Habitat for Humanity development off White Marsh Road.

The commission will be forced to make a recommendation on the project when it meets next month. The housing charity hopes to build 10 to 11 houses on the lot at the corner of White Marsh Road and Lake Kennedy Drive.

Some nearby residents, however, want to see commercial development on the property, which currently is owned by the city and zoned for a business use.

“Right now members of our community have to go all the way to Portsmouth Boulevard to find a full-service grocery store,” said Harvey Whitney, a member of the East Suffolk Gardens Civic League executive committee. “Now we’re preparing to change that from commercial to residential.”

In the two months since the commission first tabled the request, city staff have met with leaders from several surrounding communities. Planning Director Scott Mills characterized the meetings as positive.

“I came away feeling very positive about the support from those three communities,” he said, referring to Lake Kennedy Estates, Cypress Farms and Stratford Terrace.

However, the East Suffolk Gardens Civic League has yet to meet on the issue. Commissioner William Goodman is the president of the organization and is against the project. He also criticized Mills’ positive assessment of the meetings.

“The overall meeting did not end in a positive mode,” he said. “I am definitely not going to support it.”

Mills contended the appropriate place for any redevelopment would be the White Marsh Shopping Plaza across the street. It once contained a Food Lion grocery store and many other shops but now is mostly vacant.

Local resident Clinton Jenkins said after the meeting that attendees at the original meetings had been hand-picked and that members of the greater community had not been allowed. He hopes to plan one meeting for all surrounding communities and anyone else who wants to attend.

In the end, the matter was tabled one last time and will be heard again on Sept. 17. East Suffolk Gardens is set to meet on the issue the week before.

Several City Council members already have voiced support for the project.

“At the end of the road, City Council has the final word,” Planning Commission Chairman Howard Benton said.

Benton, Ronnie Rountree and Arthur Singleton voted against tabling the vote.

In other business, the commission unanimously recommended conditional use permits for:

  • World Class Gymnastics at 5196 Nansemond Parkway
  • The Young People’s Guild School of Performing Arts at 118 W. Washington St.
  • A family home day care for up to nine children at 102 Dutchland Trail
  • The Church of El Shaddai at 117 Philhower Drive
  • A massage parlor at 3441 Bridge Road

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