Merger idea still stupid, dangerous

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2004

We had hoped it was gone for good.

But no such luck.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday that Del. Johnny Joannou (D-Norfolk) will resurrect his lame-brained attempt in the upcoming session of the General Assembly to gobble up Suffolk’s land.

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Two years ago, Joannou wanted to create a mega-city encompassing all of Hampton Roads. Now, he’s apparently scaled back his proposal. He wants a commission created to study a merger of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Suffolk.

We vehemently opposed this land grab two years ago and we can only reiterate that opposition.

Little, if any, good can come out of such a plan for Suffolk and her residents. Suffolk holds the cards – available land, a sound plan to manage and control growth and a quality of life that is unparalleled in the crowded, busy world of metropolitan Hampton Roads.

In addition, Suffolk residents enjoy the lightest property tax burden among the three communities. The only thing that can come of merger is higher taxes for Suffolk residents to fund services for Portsmouth and Norfolk residents.

There’s a difference between regionalism and merger and we encourage Suffolk officials to cooperate with our sister cities to help all become more efficient and prosper, but that’s where it should stop.

Mergers are good only for the biggest players. Just ask residents of Whaleyville and Holland who 30 years ago had their land gobbled up by Suffolk. They are still waiting for the promises made in 1974 to come to fruition. In a merger of Suffolk, Portsmouth and Norfolk, Suffolk will be assuming the role of Whaleyville and 30 years from now its residents will be asking the same questions Whaleyvillians are today.

We encourage Del. Chris Jones to rally support in the General Assembly to defeat Joannou. Time, energy and resources spent by Suffolk officials on such a commission would be far better directed toward helping Whaleyville and Holland.