North Suffolk gets new division

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 21, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

North Suffolk is getting its own &uot;Main Street&uot; of sorts.

Despite concerns about the increased traffic it will create on Shoulders Hill Road, the Suffolk City Council voted 6-1 to rezone 61 acres to create the city’s first Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) subdivision Wednesday.

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A TND revolves around a town center and commercial area that has a &uot;Main Street&uot; atmosphere, said Planning Director Scott Mills.

Other components of TNDs include a greenbelt, which includes parks and passive open space, and a residential district of traditional homes and row houses.

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. The age restrictions means 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.

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett and Councilwoman Linda T. Johnson worried that development – which will be called Bennett’s Creek Square – would put extra stress on an already overcrowded Shoulders Hill Road.

Bennett voted against the project. Because the builder, Coastal Virginia Developers, agreed to develop the project in separate phases, traffic volume was not one of the factors used to evaluate the project.

&uot;There are a lot of good things about this development…but I am very concerned about the traffic,&uot; said Johnson. &uot;Shoulders Hill Road is getting busier and busier.

&uot;I’m not comfortable with the issue but I don’t see the grounds not to support it,&uot; she continued. &uot;I think the UDO (Unified Development Ordinance) needs to be looked at.&uot;

Most speakers during a public hearing supported the project that has been compared to Newport News’ Port Warwick. The only opposition came from nearby resident Evelyn Jones, who also worried about the traffic.

&uot;Shoulders Hill Road is becoming more and more impassable and development along there is growing by leaps and bounds,&uot; Jones said. &uot;I strongly urge you to deny this.&uot;

She warned that narrow streets could easily hinder the ability of public safety officials to navigate the neighborhoods during emergencies.

Olivia Wilkerson, a northern Suffolk resident and former planner for York County, praised the project.

&uot;This is very similar to Port Warwick,&uot; she said. &uot;Port Warwick is like a small city within a neighborhood. This development would have a lot of ambiance…and there would free arts for the city. Everyone in the city benefits.&uot;

Bennetts Creek resident Katherine Pond urged council to support the proposal, saying she has already made plans to buy one of the sites.

&uot;I love Bennetts Creek,&uot; she said. &uot;I want to complete the end of my journey at Bennetts Creek.&uot;