Council denies dead-end road

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Suffolk City Council on Wednesday denied a variance request from a developer hoping to eliminate Bowen Parkway as a public street, and instead make it a private driveway.

The denial was consistent with the city’s Unified Development Ordinance, and with city staff and the Planning Commission’s recommendations.

Northgate Commerce Park owners Upton Farms and ProLogis requested the variance from the code, which states that dead-end streets in industrial zoning areas may not exceed 1,500 feet in length. The developers contended that building the road, with a cost estimate of $2.5 million, would be difficult to finance and is not needed, because a traffic study indicated the other entrance provides sufficient service.

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During Wednesday’s public hearing, a tenant in the park spoke out against the proposed move.

Steven Riddick, representing the Wanchese Fish Company, said having only one entrance and exit to the park will be detrimental to his operations.

“The parking area is not designed to have our trucks be spinning around,” Riddick said. The park was designed so that trucks could enter one way and exit another when picking up products at his facility, Riddick said.

Riddick also noted that the main entrance floods during heavy rains, and that the company keeps 24,000 pounds of ammonia on site. If a leak occurred during a rainstorm, for example, his employees could not get out, and emergency crews could not get in.

“When we have heavy rains, we’re basically stuck in there,” he said.

The Unified Development Ordinance says dead-end streets typically are not allowed within the city, because they are “inconsistent with the public policy of preserving an interconnected street system.” The ordinance goes on to say that variances typically will be granted only because topography, natural features or the configuration of adjacent developments makes it impractical to follow the ordinance.

City Council, following the lead of the Planning Commission, voted unanimously after the public hearing to deny the variance request.