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Residents tell officials what kind of growth they want

Allison T. Williams

Improvements to Nansemond Parkway, a major thoroughfare linking northern and southern Suffolk.

More residential and business development on the Carolina Road corridor.

No “big box” retailers on Pitchkettle Road.

Those were just some of the recommendations served up at two community meetings, where the public got its first look at proposed revisions to the city’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan, last week.

Planners

and the Virginia Beach-based URS Corp. have spent much of the past year revising the document that will guide the city’s growth for the next two decades. Meetings held at Lakeland and Nansemond River High schools on Tuesday and Thursday nights drew a combined crowd of about 300.

Highlights of the proposed plan unveiled last week include:

*Zoning changes around the Suffolk Executive Airport, which would protect the airport and allow for the development of warehousing, manufacturing, commercial and office spaces along Carolina Road, outside the downtown area.

*Allow for the addition of 1,000 new homes in the area of Carolina, White Marsh and Hosier roads and a new roadway linking the area to the East Washington Street corridor.

*Keep proposed growth in areas where infrastructure is already in place.

*Expand the city’s agricultural zoned areas. The plan recommends the city continue studying development purchase rights and create an agricultural development advisory committee.

*Reduce the area with rural estate zoning, which will protect regional water supply and increased acreage for farmland.

Residents who attended Tuesday’s meeting were mostly opposing the development of 306 acres near the intersection of Pitchkettle Road and U.S. 58 Bypass. A local developer is planning to build an upscale 135-home subdivision and two retail outlets on the property.

Residents said Pitchkettle Road, a rural two-lane road, can’t accommodate the use that retail development would bring.

Sue Draper, who lives in Westhaven Lakes, said the community does not want to be encroached by big-box stores.

“The majority of us don’t want all that development near us,” added another resident, who lives in a subdivision off Pitchkettle. “Send all the development to the southern part of the city, where they want it.”

That would be just fine with Clifton Winborne, who lives in the Whaleyville borough.

“They should be adding 2,000 units, not 1,000 units, to the Carolina Road area,” he said. “I’ve lived there for 42 years … and have to go four or five miles just to shop.

“If it would bring more stores, I would love to see the growth to Airport and Hosier roads. This plan doesn’t bring as much development as it should to the south.”

At Thursday’s meeting, a resident of the new Harbor Breeze Estates subdivision called for the city to look at medians and traffic islands placed in cul-de-sacs and angles of driveways in the city’s newer neighborhoods.

Fire engines, trash trucks and schools buses are unable to navigate around the streets, he said.

“It is a big problem with the subdivisions that have them,”

he said.

With all the city’s rapid growth, Nansemond Parkway is in dire need of attention, said former Councilwoman Bea Rogers. She noted there is constant bottlenecking where Nansemond intersects with Wilroy and Bennett’s Pasture roads.

Contact Williams @ allison.williams@suffolknewsherald.com