Planners balk at adding homes to high growth area

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2004

City planners on Tuesday delayed efforts to bring a small community of homes and businesses to the rapidly growing Shoulders Hill Road corridor in north Suffolk.

The Suffolk Planning Commission voted 14-0 to spend another 60 days studying Coastal Virginia Developer’s proposal to build the city’s first Traditional Neighborhood Development near the intersection of Shoulders Hill and Bridge roads.

Most of the 177 homes planned for development, 118, would be sold to people over age 50; the remaining houses would not be age restricted.


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Unlike most subdivisions, a TND is a mixture of traditional houses and row houses; a town center, featuring shops in a small commercial district; and parks and other green space.

Before moving ahead with the project, the planning commission and the Suffolk City Council must rezone the property from rural residential to TND, a move that will triple the number of homes now allowed on the site.

The planning department recommended the project be approved, saying it is in concert with the Unified Development Ordinance.

But commissioners, concerned by the prospect of adding more homes than current zoning allows to the already heavily populated area, wanted to move slower and learn more about the development.

&uot;We are blazing a trail here,&uot; said Commissioner Percy Stagg. &uot;This is the first one (TND) in this area.

&uot;I think we need to look at this project and make sure we aren’t doing something we will later regret.&uot;

Commissioner Ronnie Rountree agreed.

&uot;This is the first time a traditional neighborhood development has come before us,&uot; he said. &uot;&uot;I’m not saying it’s not good for the city …but there is already a lot of development on Shoulders Hill Road.

&uot;I’d like to get more educated first. We talk about smart growth…but I don’t know whether this would be too smart.&uot;

The closest locality that has a similar TND development is Hampton, Mills added.

Because most houses would be owned by people over age 50, the proposed development would have little impact on existing infrastructure and public facilities, city officials said.

&uot;This development will generate little peak hour traffic or extra burdens on the school system,&uot; said Gary Haste, vice president of the Hoggard-Eure Associates P.C., a civil engineering firm in Portsmouth.

There is a market for the housing, which will complement and supplement the city’s existing housing stock, Haste said.

&uot;There are people who don’t want the space or responsibility of a single-family home but want the amenities they provide,&uot; he said.