Letter – Council should heed citizens requests, oppose rezoning

Published 5:38 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

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To the editor:

I have written to City Council members and spoken privately with several of them, regarding my opposition to the rezoning request RZN2021-20, Port 460 Logistics Center. When I first learned of this project, I was willing to keep an open mind about its benefits for the city and its residents, but as time went on and I learned more, I became less and less convinced that this property is the right location for this project and that taking this rezoning request up before addressing other community needs is the wrong thing to do.

Thanks to the “monumental” efforts of many good “old” and “new” Suffolk citizens, I was able to learn much about the project and the needs of our community. While I have been frustrated by most city council members’ failure to address citizens’ concerns, I have been heartened by the civic interest in a project that would have immediate and long-term impacts on our city’s economic vitality and quality of life. In trying to understand a major project that our city seemed ready to approve with little long-term view or vision, we citizens came to understand how much knowledge we collectively have, why we came to be or remain Suffolk residents, and what we believe our role should be in the city’s decision-making process.

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Many have told me these statements express their views as well:

  • We recognize that the property owner has a right to sell and that the land will eventually be sold and rezoned.
  • An objective analysis of the Port 460 proposal may reveal some value to the citizens and taxpayers, but this property is not the right location for this project.
  • Citizens have a say in how the land is zoned and developed, which is already laid out in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan that was developed with citizen input.
  • Heavy industrial zoning does not belong in a suburban use district.
  • We understand why our city is attractive to warehouse developers and the Port of Virginia, but properties within the city are already zoned for this use.
  • We know “the trucks are coming,” but it is safer for them to keep going further west than making turns at a dangerous intersection.
  • The Port 460 project should not proceed before funds are available to fix the transportation issues that already exist.
  • The Port of Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia should provide help before, not after, a large project like this.
  • The city must proceed carefully as our city grows, and not place the burden of fixing the transportation issues solely on our local taxpayers.

I hope that City Council will use these points in its internal discussions and debates as a summary of the many messages you have received, speeches you’ve heard, and comments you’ve seen on social media. While we have heard clearly from some of the council members regarding where they stand, too many have remained quiet while we await your vision and leadership.

It is clear we citizens care about our city and its people. With one current exception, you were all elected to carry out the will of the people for the good of the people. If you decide to ignore us, I am sure this issue will not be laid to rest after your vote. I implore every one of you to vote “no” on this request and move our city on to a better vision for our community.

Denise M. Murden