Planners give nod to development

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An apartment complex for older adults is in the works after the Suffolk Planning Commission gave it the green light on Tuesday.

The commission unanimously recommended approval of a rezoning request for the William Reid Active Adult Development. The 51-unit, three-story building would be located on William Reid Drive near Elephant’s Fork Elementary School.

The building, which would be situated on a 4.7-acre parcel, would be in a U-shape and feature a central courtyard, two parking garages as well as surface-level parking, a garden and a dog park. The developers believe it is the ideal location for an older adult residence, with a variety of nearby uses, including medical offices, restaurants and retail.


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“All of these create kind of a mixed bag of uses,” said attorney Whitney Saunders, who is representing the developer.

Fifteen of the units would be one-bedroom, while the others are two-bedroom.

Three nearby residents expressed concerns about traffic, drainage and property values during the meeting.

“You can’t cut grass for two weeks after it rains,” said Gary Abernathy, who lives on William Reid Drive. Regarding his and his neighbors’ property values, he added later, “Who’s going to want to buy a piece of property in between a school and a retirement facility?”

Neighbor Verlia Taylor spoke about the traffic. It backs up past her driveway while motorists wait to turn onto Godwin Boulevard, especially at the beginning and end of the school day, she said.
“The left-turning traffic has to wait an enormous amount of time,” she said.

But Melissa Venable, who has worked on the project with developer Steve Daniels, said Tuesday that those living in the facility, which would be restricted to ages 55 and up, would not generate as much peak-hour traffic as an ordinary residential development. The development would not require a traffic light at the intersection of William Reid Drive and Godwin Boulevard.

Regarding the drainage issues, Saunders said the developer plans to work with the city and school division to find out what’s causing the problem and come up with a solution.

City Council will consider the request at its Aug. 21 meeting.