Planning gets new member

Published 9:40 pm Monday, June 17, 2013

The newest member of the Suffolk Planning Commission is eager to bring a new vision to the appointed body.

Johnnie Edwards III will begin his new duties in the July meeting after being appointed by City Councilman Lue Ward. He replaces Donald Mills.

“It’s a great honor,” Edwards said of his appointment.


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Edwards owns a consulting firm, My Vote Solutions, and is legal redress chair for the Suffolk-Nansemond branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Edwards said he anticipates bringing a younger voice to the Planning Commission, which for the past few years has been filled with older men.

“One thing I think I will add is a 21st-century perspective,” he said. “I think it’s important that my generation become not just a part of the workforce and the tax base, but part of the planning.”

But that doesn’t mean that Edwards, a Suffolk native, plans to overturn the work the Planning Commission has done in recent years, he said.

“It will be a great time to really sit down and learn and listen and grow,” he said, referencing the other men on the commission. “There’s so much wisdom. These guys have been pioneers from the time of the merger. To have the chance to glean from those who have done this before, I think it’s a great opportunity.”

Edwards also said he hopes to be around to see the work of the commission become reality.

“The majority of what will come to fruition, I will actually be here to experience,” he said. “Instead of being a receiver, I’m going to be on the ground floor of when things come to pass.”

While Edwards’ tenure does not begin until the July meeting, the commission will have its June meeting today at 2 p.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St. Topics include a rezoning request for land along White Marsh Road intended for a Habitat for Humanity project and a conditional use permit request for a number of commercial buildings on West Washington Street to be converted to loft apartments.