Funeral home vote delayed

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2014

With dozens of people in the audience hoping to speak on the issue, City Council on Wednesday delayed for 30 days a vote on a proposed funeral home on East Washington Street.

Metropolitan Funeral Service, which owns a chain of three funeral homes in Norfolk and Portsmouth, is looking to expand its business to Suffolk with a new facility on the corner of East Washington Street and Suburban Drive.

The 4.4-acre site currently is undeveloped. The business plans a 17,544-square-foot funeral home and crematorium along with a 10-car garage and a caretaker’s apartment above the garage.

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The community members said they had concerns about the extra traffic the funeral home would bring to the two-lane section of the road.

Elgie Copeland was one of them. He said he’s concerned about traffic on Wilroy Road, as well, as traffic from out of town travels from the Route 58 bypass.

“It’s going to be just as much congestion up there as on East Washington,” he said.

The Planning Commission and city staff approved the application. Planning Director Scott Mills said during the planning meeting that a traffic analysis showed no concerns.

A couple of citizens said it seemed like the decision had been tabled for the purpose of delaying it until after the Nov. 4 local elections.

However, attorney Whitney Saunders, who was representing the funeral home, said he had requested the delay.

Saunders also said a community meeting has been set for Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at Tabernacle Christian Church, 2500 E. Washington St.

“They do have a lot of questions, and they are all valid,” Councilman Charles Parr said. “I can understand their concerns, and they are very concerned about it.”

The public hearing now is set for Nov. 19.