Planners deny borrow pit

Published 10:31 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

The Suffolk Planning Commission handed out three approvals and one denial during its Tuesday meeting this week.

The commission recommended denial of a sand pit in the Holland area by a vote of 5-1. It voted unanimously to recommend approval of a church, an auto repair shop and a pawn shop.

The borrow pit, which would be located in the 2100 block of Copeland Road, was recommended for denial largely because commissioners were concerned about the effect on traffic in the area. City staff also had recommended denial of the project.

Email newsletter signup

The developers, Sandy Bottom Materials, presented several routes that truck traffic entering and leaving the facility would be required to take. They also proposed purchasing land along nearby roads to create turn lanes that could mitigate some of the traffic impacts.

The suggestions were enough to win over Commissioner Thomas Savage, who was the lone vote for the project.

“I believe that the applicant has gone over backwards,” Savage said.

The other commissioners, however, voted against the project, with the exceptions of Ritchie Jordan, who was absent, and Howard Benton, who abstained because he is a contiguous property owner.

“I would be the first one to vote for this project if the safety issue had been taken care of,” said Ronnie Rountree.

In other business at the meeting, the planners approved a new place of worship, Church of El Shaddai, at 117 Philhower Drive, near the intersection of East Washington Street and Portsmouth Boulevard.

The new building will be about 8,550 square feet and seat about 150 in the sanctuary. It also will feature a lobby, offices, classrooms and a nursery.

Commissioner Arthur Singleton expressed a concern about the condition of Philhower Drive.

“It’s in sad shape,” he said. However, city traffic engineers determined that no improvements were necessary, because a church typically attracts visitors only during off-peak hours. Planning director Scott Mills said the road is on the Public Works Department’s radar for future repairs.

A pawn shop to be located at 892 N. Main St. also was approved, though some commissioners were concerned about the shop’s plan to sell firearms.

The owners, however, assured the commissioners they would abide by all laws and regulations and provide daily reports of their transactions to the police department.

“It’s going to be my discretion whether I sell a firearm,” said Tom Erwin, who will manage the shop. “If it don’t look right, don’t feel right, I’m not going to do it.”

Finally, the planners approved an auto repair shop at 420 W. Washington St. It will be run by Hector Pope of Hector’s Windows and Regulators.

A public hearing will be held on each of the projects at the City Council meeting on June 15. The final approval or denial will be decided by Council.