Letter – Sad to see Suffolk’s ag heritage erode

Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2022

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To the Editor:

As a lifelong Suffolkian with deep roots here since the late 1800s with my great-great-great grandparents buried on the Pitchkettle Road “Water Works Property” and as a Murphys Mill Road resident, I am very concerned with the rezoning of Route 460, Pitchkettle Road, Murphys Mill Road and King’s Fork Road.

Below are key points why my family and the community have concerns with the rezoning:

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Agriculture. Suffolk is losing its identity! We as a city were known for agriculture. Developing this large property into warehouses is another main highway entering and exiting our city that does not resemble who we are.

I am a proud farmer’s daughter and despise the change of our city. There was a balance of industries and agriculture for a long time, but that has dissipated in the course of just 10-15 years. The city does not demonstrate any balance as a reflection of who we are.

How can you have a Peanut Festival when you are consuming the city with warehouses? What about creating a working farm for school field trips/science/machinery operations, a complete educational operation? There are so many ideas available to keep this farm intact and available for the community.

Revenue. Suffolk continues to build warehouses and homes; however, there is no investment in actual businesses to keep the residents here. Warehouses do not provide residents with options of spending money.

The Suffolk residents venture out to other cities to shop, eat and other activities. Suffolk loses out on the revenue that could be brought into the city. A warehouse can be built for the incoming business occupants; but as we have seen, many warehouses are short lived. Yes, this provides job opportunities, but those employees do not have any other means to keep them in the City of Suffolk.

Also, U.S. 58, Manning Road, Kenyon Road, Wilroy Road and Nansemond Parkway are loaded with warehouses, active and inactive (vacant). Why does another business want to come this far from the ports? Again, losing the city’s identity from agriculture and who we as a city are!

Water. Living by Lake Meade, my family enjoys the fishing opportunities the lake provides. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts use the West End Baptist Church cabin and land right on the lake. What will come of this property with warehouses surrounding it? With the warehouse this close Lake Meade could be polluted by the warehouse runoff, which the City of Portsmouth owns.

Many of our Suffolk residents utilize the water from Lake Meade. In addition the runoff could bring toxins to those who use well water, which is not only a danger to people but to the wildlife.

Traffic/Road Conditions. When the apartment/condo neighborhood Hallstead Reserve began preparing the land for development, both bridges on Murphys Mill Road had to be reinforced — not restructured for better support but reinforced. These rural roads are not meant for this type of heavy load on a regular basis.

The traffic on Route 460 is already heavy with tractor trailers and this extra traffic will make commutes more difficult for school buses, farm equipment and vehicles. We are already seeing a road surface change on Lake Kilby Road as the tractor trailers from LandWerks’ lot uses Lake Kilby in both directions.

Tractor trailers access rural roads to their convenience. I watched this happen all the time when I was a resident of Lummis Road. Drivers would use Lummis Road to cut through to Whaleyville Boulevard due to missing the turn at Copeland Road or just choosing a different route. When a tractor trailer and farm equipment meet on the rural roads, that can be a disaster. There is not enough road shoulder nor durable road conditions for this type of traffic.

If you are a true Suffolkian you will back a farmer and his livelihood before any warehouse development! You should also look at our city as a whole and rediscover our city’s longevity as an agriculture community.


Christy Cordova