Council to hear comment on school Wednesday

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Suffolk City Council tonight is expected to hear public comment on a proposed site for a new elementary school on Holland Road.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St. A work session at 5 p.m. will precede the regular meeting.

The proposed 700-student school would serve students from Holland and Whaleyville. It would be located at the intersection of Holland and Pioneer roads.

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At a public hearing before the Planning Commission last month, nearby residents expressed concerns over traffic, drainage and a railroad track that borders the site.

The proposed two-story school would be modeled after the 97,000-square-foot Hillpoint Elementary School. Roadway improvements will include a traffic light and turn lanes at the intersection, widening Pioneer Road to three lanes in front of the school, installing curbs, gutters and sidewalks and reducing the speed limit on Pioneer Road to 35 miles per hour.

City water is proposed to be extended to the site, and the site could host a water tank as part of the project.

The site currently is owned by Marion and Lydia Harrell, who use it as farmland.

City staff has recommended approval of the school, and the Planning Commission voted 6-1 last month to recommend approval. The vote against approval came from Jim Vacalis, who said his vote was because there had been no public input on that specific site and because the school is not in a designated urban/suburban growth area or in a village, as called for by the comprehensive plan.

Other items on tonight’s City Council agenda include public hearings to exempt the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association from taxation; change the zoning at 1217 N. Main St., the former health department site, to allow for redevelopment; change the zoning at 3300 Eberwine Lane to allow a light industrial use; and amend proffers in the Hampton Roads Crossing mixed-use development to allow for more residential units.

In addition, four ordinances are on the agenda. One would allow a child daycare center at Tabernacle Baptist Church at 3621 Nansemond Parkway.

Another ordinance would require contractors to remove utility markings within 20 days of completion of work. If they are not removed, they will be considered graffiti and removed by the city, with the contractor being responsible for all costs and the city possibly suspending further permits to the contractor until the marks are removed.