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Housing slump causes developer to change plans

The slumping housing market hit home for Suffolk’s Planning Commission on Wednesday, when a developer requested an amendment to the conditions under which the commission approved its development.

Representatives from Bennett’s Creek Square, Inc., were on hand to ask that the age restriction they had agreed on for 100 townhouse units in the Shoulders Hill Road area be removed. The original rezoning was approved with a 55-and-over age restriction for the townhouses, but current market conditions necessitate a change, Vince Napolitano said.

“It’s a smaller segment of the population,” he said of the 55-and-over age group. “By opening it up, we can get first-time buyers and others.”

Napolitano noted that in today’s economic climate the people who constitute the developer’s original target market could find themselves unable to sell their current homes. Casting a wider net would increase the likelihood that developers could attract buyers for the townhouses, he said.

Removing the age restriction would mean that families with children could move into the homes, so the developer will pay $436,000 for increased middle and high school capacity. The development is not anticipated to increase elementary school enrollment to the point where it put the local school over capacity, city officials said.

The school proffers would be paid at a rate of $4,359 per unit when the building permit is issued.

The Planning Commission voted 8-0 to recommend that the City Council remove age restriction, and the addition of the cash contributions. The council is set to take up the matter at its Aug. 19 meeting.

Planning commissioners also approved a conditional use permit request for a gymnastics facility at 1000 Bowen Parkway; a rezoning request allowing purchasers of new homes in Hillpoint Farms to choose between an 18-inch raised slab or a crawl space for the homes; and a rezoning request amendment by Nansemond River Estates to provide for the installation of traffic signals on Sleepy Hole Road.