Two more blows to river

Published 5:03 pm Friday, October 9, 2020

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To the editor:

Sometimes, it feels as if 2020 could not get much worse. With the COVID-19 health crisis and the social and economic unrest, I certainly believed things were just about as bad as they could get. I then received news of two more deafening blows: namely that a developer is proposing to build even more houses in the historic village that my family has called home for well over 100 years, and, again, the Nansemond River is closed to harvesting oysters because of polluted waters being discharged into it.

These two poison apples grow from the same twig; they are intertwined. In fact, the overdevelopment of North Suffolk is a major casual factor of the pollution of the river. Suffolk and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District simply do not have adequate facilities to appropriately keep up with the demand caused by the growing population.

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I am a descendant of Eclipse watermen and like generations before me, I lease oyster grounds from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Being able to harvest oysters from the nearby river is one of the truly unique things about life in northern Suffolk. It is unfortunate that this occupation that has weathered the storms of DERMO and MSX is now being threatened by overdevelopment.

The overdevelopment that concerns me is not merely happening along Bridge Road and in Harbour View, it is taking place right within the center of our historic oystering community. To the disgust of nearly all of my neighbors, friends and relatives in Eclipse, a tract builder has begun erecting houses in what was the forest in the center of Eclipse — a place that was the setting of many of my best childhood memories. It is not enough that space has been cleared for home development, but now we understand a builder wants to cram 15 houses onto the field behind our community center, the building my relatives called their schoolhouse. I am left to wonder about the absence of environmental impact studies that would show the harm this development is doing to the oysters on the grounds I lease.

This disregard for our oyster-harvesting way of life and for our cherished historic community is nauseating. When will those who we elected to protect us stop this intrusion and strengthen the things that remain?

John S. Newman Jr.