Council should take closer look at UDO

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Staff report

It appears a retreat for city council couldn’t come at a better time.

After more than a year of relative cohesion – at least when compared to the old 4-3 days – it appeared at last week’s meeting that some long-simmering pots finally boiled over.


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Not surprisingly, it was the ever-controversial Unified Development Ordinance that caused some dissension to surface.

Council members Curtis Milteer and Linda Johnson both Wednesday decried the 1999 ordinance’s impact upon the respective areas of the city they represent, which are literally, and figuratively, at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

In Milteer’s borough, Whaleyville, at the southern extreme of the city, the ordinance has effectively halted growth, severely restricting housing opportunities, while in Johnson’s Sleepy Hole borough, to the northern extreme, the ordinance has fueled massive amounts of residential growth with which roads and services cannot keep pace.

In short, the UDO is doing exactly what it was designed to do – direct residential, commercial and industrial growth to specific areas while limiting it and preserving agricultural and green space in others.

Be that as it may, it’s clear that it’s time to take a hard, second look, at the ordinance to assess what it has wrought, and to attempt to project what it will bring in the future.

It just so happens such a process has been underway for the past several months. Unfortunately, interest in the process among the public appears to be virtually non-existent, based on attendance at various public meetings that have been staged.

As things stand now, the UDO is the law of the land in Suffolk and the City Council majority was entirely correct last week to vote as it did in regard to Millstone subdivision, which was contrary to just about every aspect of the ordinance. If Council members do not like the UDO, they need to rally support among their constituents and colleagues to change it.

The upcoming retreat presents an ideal opportunity to address it and attempt to come up with a plan that keeps our city’s governing body working as a team to move Suffolk forward.