Four Farms project raises many concerns

Published 9:31 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

By Roger A. Leonard

As a professional master and strategic planner, I am very concerned about the “Four Farms Project” and how it is being reviewed for approval. I live a few miles from this proposed project and own other properties even closer to it. I know from past work that the “Levels of Service” for traffic, schools, and other public services in this area would be significantly affected by the build-out of this project as proposed. The demand on roads alone ensures that it should not be built on a rational basis, as presently offered.

I would hope that the proponents of this project will be required by the city staff, Planning Commission and City Council to fully and completely explain how they would address these major negative impacts, in full! Just to make the claim that such a major change in zoning should be allowed because our bad situation is not made that much worse by the developer, is not an answer. It should also be noted that this is not in conformance with 2026 Comprehensive Plan, nor the “Southern Suffolk Strategy” as presently known. That is why a rezoning is being demanded by the developer. This kind of stupid planning is what has harmed our community in the past and must not be allowed again. With this huge demand for change, without the needed infrastructure approval should not be given!

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If this is going to be approved in any form, we all need to hear clearly how traffic flows and level of service will be improved, how school use will be affected and improved, and so on. We need specifics, like how the connection that extends the “by-pass” from its present stop at Route 13 will be extended to White Marsh Road? How will East Washington Street be improved for more traffic demands? Who will pay for major upgrades to the sewer interceptor and force mains for such capacity demands from thousands of new users?

We do not need another huge mistake that ensures snarled traffic, which puts lives at great risk as we now see coming due to the approval of CenterPoint out on Route 58. There, significant problems caused by development approval without full foresight and commitment by the proponents will ensure a mess for all that live and travel near the CenterPoint project on Route 58. This is the poster-child in Suffolk for poor planning and chasing the money! Does anyone know where the funds are coming from to build the improvements to Route 58 to handle this new truck traffic on an already burdened road? Will it be the same on Route 13 and East Washington with this proposed project?

I respectfully demand that all of our local leaders ensure that this project is only given the nod if and when these many negative issues are fully resolved and funds committed and found to ensure that they are properly addressed. Do not allow it to move forward one inch until funds are in hand to build new roads, schools, fire stations, police stations, water supplies, sewer capacity and so on. To do less only ensures we have more sprawling development that diminishes the quality of life for our citizens and families of South Suffolk. This is not a small issue and must get a full and proper review, with a solid demand for solutions paid for by the developer! Also, this project is not what the community called for in any way as some claim. To approve this project in its present form will give a small group effective control of the development of all of South Suffolk for years to come and that is not in our interest as a community.

This project is presently an abomination that needs to go back to the drawing board before it is seriously considered. This is not a use by the landowner “by right.” It is a demand for rezoning from low impact use (A-Zoning) to a high impact zoning for huge impacts and many new burdens. It is a great cause for concern for all in the city and especially those of us who live near this proposed project, if solutions are not proffered. We have seen many times in the past the mistake of approvals for profit by the council, but we must not allow it this time!

Roger A. Leonard is a Suffolk resident.