Vote delayed on mixed use zoning amendment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2005

A proposed zoning ordinance text amendment sought by City Council that will likely have a major impact on the direction of development in Suffolk was tabled Tuesday by the planning commission to give developers time to examine it.

The ordinance would create a Mixed Use Development Overlay District &uot;for the purpose of providing for the orderly development of land while permitting flexibility in the design, construction and processing of mixed use developments of quality which could not be achieved by traditional development under conventional zoning concepts,&uot; according to the staff report prepared for commissioners.

The planning staff’s report said the purpose of the ordinance is to revitalize older commercial corridors; increase opportunities for infill development; encourage development that is less auto dependent; and encourage mixed use pedestrian oriented development patterns where residents have services, shops, jobs, open space and access to transit within walking distance of their homes.

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While there are opportunities to locate mixed use development throughout the city, the report states that the Comprehensive Plan identifies two areas particularly well-suited: Urban Infill sites, between the CBD and the Route 58 Bypass; and Suburban Sites, north of the Route 58 Bypass.

&uot;The urban infill developments would tend to be more compact with sites typically smaller but with good access for mass transit opportunities,&uot; the report stated.

Developer Bob Williams, who is planning such a development in north Suffolk, said during the public hearing on the amendment that he had just received a copy of it on Monday. He said he had identified about six &uot;major objections&uot; and asked the planners to delay a vote until the public had more time to study it.

Claudia Dell of Suffolk, representing the Tidewater Builders Association, praised the amendment and the city for taking action on mixed use development overlay districts while other communities are merely talking about it.

&uot;We are very interested in seeing this ordinance go through,&uot; she said. It’s a very flexible ordinance that would bring new products to the city.&uot;

A motion passed to table a vote until the August meeting.