Too little, too late?

Published 10:54 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

The lesson Eclipse residents learned — or perhaps re-learned — last week is that when neighborliness and transparency are not required, they’re not likely to be extended voluntarily.

Folks in the North Suffolk community were surprised recently to wake up to land clearing taking place on a plot of land in their neighborhood. Through asking some questions and digging around, they soon learned that 17 homes — quite a large number to add suddenly in any neighborhood — would be built on the land.

The residents of Eclipse were understandably surprised, because they had no idea this development was planned. A new state law, they learned, allows cluster subdivisions that meet certain conditions to be permitted “by-right.” In other words, the developer, Kirk-Old LLC, did not have to go through the normal process of filing requests for a conditional use permit or a rezoning, either of which would have had to go through a process with rigorous requirements for notification of neighbors and the general public and opportunities for public input.

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In the absence of this process, it seems, neither the city nor the developer thought it appropriate to reach out to the community in any way, shape or form. The city’s motivation to do so might have been transparency. The developer’s motivation might have been neighborliness. But the decision-makers in this instance apparently were sorely lacking in those qualities, and the hundreds of residents of this quiet community suffer for it.

Now that they know about the development, the residents have legitimate concerns that the city and developer should address.

Chief among these concerns is traffic. All of the homes in Eclipse use one road — Eclipse Drive — to access Bridge Road. That’s already not ideal — residents see it as both a strength and a weakness, according to reporting by News-Herald reporter Alex Perry this week. Also considering the narrowness of many of the roads in Eclipse, adding dozens more vehicles to this scenario may strain the bounds of safety and create a dangerous situation.

We urge the developer and city officials from every relevant department as well as administration to meet with residents and allay their concerns over the development.

But we’re afraid anything at this point may be too little, and it’s definitely too late.