Where it all begins

Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Members of the public have one more chance to give their input on Suffolk’s comprehensive plan as a series of public hearings on the updated document comes to a close following a 7 p.m. meeting tonight at Creekside Elementary School on Bennetts Creek Park Road.

The most recent rewrite of the city’s main planning instrument took place in 2006, with an update having begun in 2011. Suffolk officials expect the latest update to be complete in the summer, after final edits and approval by city staff, the Planning Commission and City Council.

Tonight’s meeting is the last of three this week in which Suffolk administrative staffers were to hear from members of the public about the sorts of things they wanted covered by the plan. About two dozen citizens turned out for the first meeting, held on Tuesday at King’s Fork Middle School.

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The proposal recommends increasing the allowed density in certain growth areas and holding the line — for the most part — on what’s defined as a growth area. Three extensions to the downtown growth area are proposed along Godwin Boulevard and near Lake Cohoon and Manning Road.

Some participants on Tuesday suggested that the updated version of the plan address water access and the availability of outdoor recreation appropriate for youth and adults. Others wanted to be sure city officials understand the magnitude of the traffic problems Suffolk faces and asked that the plan consider alternatives to deal with increasing truck traffic along Route 58.

Whether any of those requests will make it into the final version of the new comprehensive plan remains to be seen, but the public input sessions can ensure, at the very least, that city officials and their consultants have heard ideas from outside Market Street. For anyone who has ever thought they had a better plan for development, or traffic control or recreation or just about any other land-use category, the comprehensive plan is where it all begins.