Council to discuss Obici House

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A long City Council meeting Wednesday will be highlighted by a staff report on unsolicited proposals for the Obici House.

The fate of the former home of Suffolk benefactors Amedeo and Louise Obici has been in limbo for some time. The place sits near the 18th hole at Sleepy Hole Golf Course, which is operated by a company owned by Planning Commissioner Ronnie Rountree.

Last week, Rountree told city officials he would like to incorporate Obici House into the operation of the golf course, which he has operated for 15 years.

Email newsletter signup

Rountree admitted Tuesday it was not his preferred course of action.

“I wanted it done, but I didn’t want to be the one to do it,” Rountree said of renovating the home. “I still wanted somebody to step up.”

Rountree said he talked with members of the Suffolk Professional Firefighters Union, who submitted a proposal to renovate and reuse the home but later withdrew it.

“I said I would be glad to work with them,” Rountree said.

However, Rountree now sees the urgency in getting something done with the house. He will use his own money, if necessary, he said.

Golfers at his course like to inspect the house during their game, Rountree said, despite signs warning they should not. He fears someone will be injured by the dilapidated structure.

“A no trespassing sign is like, ‘Come on, lick my ice cream,’” Rountree said.

Rountree said he might attend Wednesday’s meeting in person, but most likely will watch it on television.

Susan Blair, who represents Citizens for the Preservation of Obici House, the other group with a proposal on the table, intends to speak at the meeting, she said Tuesday.

“It’s interesting that Ronnie has stepped up to the plate, and I think it’s good,” Blair said. “I’m just curious to see what he plans to do.”

Blair said her group is willing to work with Rountree and others to accomplish the common goal of saving Obici House.

“Certainly we’d be willing to work with him in any capacity,” Blair said. “It would be a positive thing for the community.”

In addition to the Obici House discussion, Wednesday’s agenda includes seven public hearings on such topics as proposed street name and address changes for Townpoint Road and College Drive; rezoning requests for Bennett’s Creek Square development and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy; an amendment to a rezoning request for TowneBank; and conditional use permit requests for Southside Baptist Church and Hands On Massage, LLC.