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No disagreement on apartments

Published 9:38pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

To the extent that last week’s column inferred support by Suffolk City Council members for an apartment complex on Bridge Road in North Suffolk, Mike Duman has a message:

Ain’t happening.

Duman, who represents the Chuckatuck Borough, cast one of the votes that appeared to keep alive a developer’s notion to build 144 garden apartments on the property, which has flopped as an office park since being permitted for that purpose six years ago.

But Duman, speaking for himself and echoing comments by colleague Charles Parr in last month’s council meeting, said the vote to table the developer’s rezoning request was intended only to allow him the chance to come up with an alternative commercial use.

“It gives the applicant opportunity to present an option other than apartments,” Duman said. “The apartment deal is dead. If he doesn’t know that, he’s brain dead.”

Rezoning the property would have been only the first of two steps needed to build apartments on the property. Had the rezoning been approved, the developer still would have needed a conditional-use permit for apartments.

Duman described the tabling as a “stay of execution” for a property owner for whom Duman, a business owner himself, has some empathy.

Had a vote to deny the rezoning passed, the property owner would have had to wait a full year to propose an alternative use.

The tabling allows 90 days to go back to the drawing board.

“Hopefully, he will come up with a viable option that will allow him to do something with a piece of property that will generate taxes without creating problems for people in the area,” Duman said.

On the subject of politics and ideas that are “dead on arrival,” this column predicted in mid-January that Medicaid expansion in Virginia would go nowhere as long as Delegate Chris Jones, R-Suffolk and new chairman of the powerful House Appropriations committee, was opposed to it.

“Expansion of Medicaid I do not see this session. Period,” Jones said at the time.

After months of drama, Jones prevailed, thanks in part to solidarity among GOP colleagues in the House and the sudden “retirement” of a Democratic senator who tipped the balance of power in that chamber.

But no voice speaks more authoritatively in Richmond these days than Jones. Just ask Terry McAuliffe.

Steve Stewart is publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. Email him at steve.stewart@suffolknewsherald.com.

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