Comp plan review nears

Published 10:56 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

The city of Suffolk will embark on a review of its comprehensive plan this month with the issuance of a request for proposals for consulting services.

State law mandates that localities have such a plan and review it every five years. The document provides guidance on a wide array of planning issues, such as zoning, development and transportation.

“It should be a good process,” Planning and Community Development director Scott Mills said Wednesday. “There’s been a lot of changes in the past five years.”

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By October, a consulting firm should be hired and the review begun, Mills said. A number of stakeholders from the government, business, real estate and environmental realms, among others, will be invited to participate.

“We all know our country has changed and our economic conditions have changed,” Vice Mayor Charles Brown said during Wednesday’s City Council work session, where Mills briefed the governing body on the timeline for the review. “I think the timing is just right to review our comprehensive plan. Now is the time to look towards the future.”

The city also has the benefit of fresh census data to work into the review, Mills noted.

Councilman Charles Parr wanted the comprehensive plan review to include an analysis of rail transportation opportunities within the city.

Councilman Leroy Bennett also was concerned with transportation issues, asking Mills whether a project dubbed the Finney Avenue flyover would make a re-appearance during the process. The Finney Avenue flyover would carry downtown traffic over several rail crossings, eliminating lengthy backups when trains roll through the city. The project never made it past the drawing board because it lacked funding.

“We will be looking at our transportation plan,” Mills told both council representatives in response to their concerns. “I’d hesitate to say what specifically those improvements would be.”

There will be opportunities for public input throughout the process. The Suffolk News-Herald will announce those opportunities as they are scheduled.