Plan review to start soon

Published 9:40 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The City Council and Planning Commission will meet in a joint work session June 20 to kick off the process of updating the city’s comprehensive plan.

A consultant, McBride Dale Associates Inc., has been awarded a contract to help update the plan. In addition, opportunities for public input are planned throughout the process, according to a presentation at Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting.

State law requires that the comprehensive plan be reviewed every five years. Suffolk’s plan was last reviewed in 2006, meaning the newest review was started last year with the funding of the process and the request for proposals for a consultant.

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The comprehensive plan addresses a number of areas of interest in the city, including growth areas, rural villages, transportation, housing, utility services, economic development, neighborhood revitalization, natural resources and more.

“We need to really look at how we go about this smart growth,” Planning Commissioner William Goodman said during Tuesday’s meeting.

The entire process is expected to take 18 months, which Planning Commissioner Jim Vacalis said “seems like a long time, but I guess that’s what it takes now.”

Public input sessions are included in each phase of the process, including public hearings in front of both Planning Commission and City Council before the final plan is adopted.

In addition, “stakeholder meetings” will be held along the way. City leaders hope to receive input from the general citizenry as well as from special interest groups, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

At the June 20 joint work session, the consultant will be in attendance to make introductions and begin an initial discussion on the plan, according to Tuesday’s presentation.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, planners voted unanimously to approve three requests for conditional use permits.

The first two are in the Holland Plaza shopping center on Holland Road. Titans Martial Arts and Fitness Center and The Living Word Ministry both received permits.

In addition, CNS Beauty Academy received permission to operate in the same building as the Cut ‘N Shears beauty salon in Freedom Plaza on Burnetts Way.