Planning Commission OKs house construction

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Overriding the city’s recommendation for denial, the Suffolk Planning Commission on Tuesday gave a Norfolk surgeon the green light to build his dream home in north Suffolk.

City planners voted 6 to 5 to approve Suffolk native Dr. Lungy Britt’s request for the permit needed to begin construction of a 5,586-square-foot house in the upscale Governor’s Pointe subdivision. The request still has to be approved by the Suffolk City Council next month.

Britt, who was raised near downtown, bought his waterfront lot on Tindall Court and had the house designed before realizing it would exceed a 10-foot environmental buffer required by the developer, said his attorney Whitney Saunders.

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Britt is asking that the 10-foot buffer – which is in addition to the 100-foot encroachment required by the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act – be reduced to zero.

Granting such a variance typically requires the applicant show some sort of hardship or other reason for the exemption, said Scott Mills, the city’s planning director.

&uot;I believe that would be hard to find here,&uot; he said.

Approval of Britt’s request would likely be setting some sort of precedent for other homes in the subdivision, he added.

Several commissioners said they supported Britt’s request because neither his neighbors not the subdivision’s homeowners association opposed it.

Commissioner John Rector said he believes planners should approve the request because of Britt’s status in the Hampton Roads community.

&uot;Maybe I should not let this come into play… (when making this decision) but I consider this a small price for one of Suffolk’s finest citizens,&uot; said Commissioner John Rector.

Commissioner Ronnie Rountree said he would not support the proposal.

&uot;My heart is in favor of it,&uot; he said. &uot;But I feel the covenant was in place when he bought the property and designed the house.

&uot;Ignorance of the law is no excuse.&uot;