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Council to resume meetings at City Hall

Suffolk City Council will hold a meeting at City Hall Wednesday, the first time it has done so since March 31, when it adopted a resolution to confirm the declaration of a local emergency and approved an emergency ordinance to allow for electronic meetings for 90 days.

Since that nine-minute meeting, the council has held three virtual meetings — on April 15, May 6 and May 20. At its most recent meeting, council voted to extend the emergency ordinance by 60 days.

Wednesday’s meeting at City Hall will start at 7 p.m., and there will not be a work session before the regular council meeting. City Hall will be accessible to the public for the purpose of the meeting only.

Anyone wanting to come to the meeting in person is asked to get to City Hall as early as possible, because there will be less seating available due to social distancing requirements. Council members and city staff will also follow social distancing requirements, though they are excluded from Gov. Ralph Northam’s 10-person limit on gatherings, and per Northam’s recent executive order and CDC recommendations, face coverings will be required.

Common surfaces will continue to be sanitized before and after the meeting.

At the March 31 meeting, members of the public were not allowed to sit in the first three rows of the council chamber, and blue tape marked the seats where people were allowed to sit. Instead of council members sitting next to one another, there was an extra space left between them. And rather than City Manager Patrick Roberts, City Attorney Helivi Holland and Police Chief Thomas Bennett sitting in their normal spots, Roberts and Holland sat in front of the podium reserved for staff presentations and public speakers, while Bennett stood between his normal spot and the public seating.

For those not wanting to attend, the meeting will also be livestreamed.

Among the items on the agenda is a COVID-19 update, transportation project updates, an ordinance to accept and appropriate CARES Act money received from the state and an ordinance that would authorize the city manager to execute a $400,000 grant agreement with the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation to help the city acquire property in the South Quay area of the city to expand the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s South Quay Sandhills Natural Area Preserve, and to develop a city park.

There will also be a public hearing on an ordinance that would authorize the city to buy property and/or acquire it through permanent and temporary easements — either by agreement or condemnation — for the U.S. Route 460-Pruden Boulevard water transmission main project.