Lack of growth in south decried

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

A developer’s efforts to build a 191-home subdivision off Turlington Road, within a mile of Suffolk Executive Airport, didn’t fly Wednesday with the Suffolk City Council.

The council voted 4-3 to deny a request to rezone 121 acres from commercial to residential use for the Millstone development, a proposed community of 191 homes that would sell for $250,000 to $325,000 each.

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The property was zoned for residential use until five years ago, when a revamping of the city’s comprehensive plan rezoned it for commercial use.

Both city planners and the planning commission opposed the subdivision’s location because of its close proximity to the airport. Future growth planned for the airport could prove to be a nuisance – maybe even a danger – to nearby homeowners, they said.

Millstone won the support of council members Curtis R. Milteer Sr., who represents the Whaleyville borough, and Linda T. Johnson and Charles Brown. The three said they believe the southern end of the city needs some of the growth that other areas have experienced in recent years.

Despite ongoing construction at the airport, Milteer said he doesn’t believe it will grow too much.

&uot;The airport is not going to grow,&uot; he said. &uot;All this talk of the airport expanding is a fluke.

&uot;I believe we may have zoned it wrong five years ago in the comp plan,&uot; he continued. &uot;We’ve got to be strong enough to correct our own mistake.

&uot;There is growth in the north, growth in the west but there’s none in the south.&uot;

Johnson agreed, saying northern Suffolk has had too much growth too fast.

&uot;Northern Suffolk is going to fall off the map if we keep throwing all of it our way,&uot; she said. &uot;I’m not anti-growth for the north. I’m for balanced growth spread all over the city.&uot;

Moreover, she said, the city needs to take a hard look at the Unified Development Ordinance, the document that manages growth, as it updates the 2018 Comprehensive Plan.

&uot;The UDO has brought us cookie-cutter homes on postage-stamp lots,&uot; Johnson said. I think we need to look at it again,

&uot;The UDO is not helping us get affordable housing. I think the UDO has trampled private property owners’ rights.&uot;

Other council members said it would be unwise to deviate from the 2018 plan – considered the roadmap for the city’s future – before the completion of the ongoing review.

Mayor Bobby Ralph expressed concern about the lack of consistency in planning land use and indicated support for growth toward the rural southern end of the city.

&uot;But I believe in plans and processes, and as long as I can, I’m going to stick with that,&uot; he said. &uot;On the south side, there has been no movement whatsoever of any significance.

&uot;We need to do something to simulate growth in that area.&uot;

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett and councilmen E. Dana Dickens III and Calvin Jones cautioned against moving too fast.

&uot;We are looking at doing this in a non-planned format,&uot; Dickens said. &uot;I think that will be a mistake. We need to look at the comp plan.&uot;

&uot;…I don’t believe the greater good is served with the additional (residential) lots.&uot;

Jones recommended postponing a vote until the city completes its revision of the 2018 plan, which could take another year.

Most people who spoke during a public hearing prior to the council’s vote opposed the project.

&uot;All I can say is its close to the airport,&uot; Dan Frohman, chairman of the airport commission. &uot;It’s a worthy project, it’s just in the wrong place.

&uot;Ten years down the road, all I see are airport opposition groups coming forward.&uot;

Area residents worried Millstone would bring too much extra traffic and further crowding into the city’s schools.

&uot;You just made a good move with the opening of the bypass and taking trucks off Turlington Road,&uot; said resident Sonja Gardner. &uot;Kilby Shores had trailers when my daughter was in elementary school and they are still there now.

&uot;With the tax money we pay, I don’t think any kid should be taught in a trailer. Ya’ll want our money; you need to make our city better for us.&uot;

Other business

The council also approved ordinances to accept and appropriate:

$34,047 in state funds received through the Asset Forfeiture Program for drug prosecution.

A $9,527 grant from the state Department of Environment Quality for the litter prevention/recycling program.

Funds from Isle of Wight County, Southampton County, and Franklin for the Fifth Judicial District Community Corrections Program.

A $20,066 grant from the Southeastern Virginia Areawide Model Program (SEVAMP) for senior citizen services provided in 2004-2005 (second reading).

$7,983 from the State Compensation Board for temporary salaries in the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office (second reading).

Ordinance amending city code to require the riders of mopeds to wear helments and protective eyegear.