Council denies Four Farms

Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Suffolk City Council on Wednesday voted nearly unanimously to deny the massive Four Farms project.

The 7-1 vote was just what residents who live near the proposed project wanted.

“Overwhelmingly, the residents of Suffolk are against this project,” said Lory Lagoyda, who lives on White Marsh Road.


Email newsletter signup

South Suffolk Properties, LLC, was seeking a rezoning and Comprehensive Plan Amendment that would have allowed them to build nearly 2,000 housing units on 462 acres between White Marsh and Hosier roads. The development would have included a mix of single- and multi-family types, as well as 164,000 square feet of commercial space and a 19-acre site for an elementary school.

The largest roadblock to the project was traffic. Nearby residents say area streets, particularly East Washington Street, already are too congested to handle extra cars.

Other points of concern included water and sewer capacities, the effect on taxes and property values and a housing market flooded with vacant homes.

John T. “Jack” Randall, an attorney with Stallings and Bischoff who represented Suffolk Citizens for Responsible Growth, a group of citizens opposed to the project, asked council members to vote against the project Wednesday.

“We have stood by very patiently,” he said. “I would respectfully request this application be voted on tonight and rejected.”

His sentiments were echoed by four members of Suffolk Citizens for Responsible Growth. Lagoyda presented a petition against the project signed by more than 600 residents — mostly from the Cypress borough, but many from throughout the city as well, she said.

Attorney Whitney Saunders, who represented the developers, lamented that there was no time to talk about the design of the project.

“It’s an outstanding design that deserves more attention,” he said. He devoted much of his allotted time to pointing out that the comprehensive plan calls for housing in that area.

After the public hearing, City Council members at first appeared to be leaning toward tabling the project, with suggestions ranging from three months to a year to gather more information.

However, some thought the applicants had had plenty of time to submit information and make changes to the plan. Councilman Charles Parr made the motion for denial.

Vice Mayor Charles Brown, who represents the Cypress borough where the project would be located, was the lone vote against denying the motion. He favored tabling it.

“I was just trying to take the positive road,” he said.

The project may not be entirely dead, however. The Comprehensive Plan is due to be reviewed in the coming fiscal year, and a review of the area’s agricultural designation will be a part of that process, City Council members said.

The developers can resubmit the project after one year. It would have to go through the entire process again, including Planning Commission consideration.