Port 460 project not on council agenda but not far from minds

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2022

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It won’t officially be on the agenda at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, but the proposed rezoning for the Port 460 Logistics Center project won’t be far from people’s minds.

Opponents of the project are set to hold a rally at City Hall at 4:45 p.m., between council’s work session and regular meeting, and Mayor Mike Duman, in his Sept. 2 Facebook Live, said he expects there to be “a significant number” of non-agenda speakers, though he did not specifically say what they would be talking about.

Council tabled the matter at its Aug. 17 meeting, with the mayor and some of council’s members asking for more information about the project before it votes. If approved, 540 acres of property off of U.S. Routes 460 and 58 and Pitchkettle, Kings Fork and Murphys Mill roads would be rezoned from general commercial and agricultural to heavy industrial zoning to allow for 4.7 million square feet of warehouses, 10 in all, to be built, along with some commercial retail to be built on the property fronting U.S. 460.

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Duman, in his chat, said he has had “a bunch of” his questions answered, but is awaiting answers from the state, and he said he plans to speak with representatives of the property developer, Matan Companies, one more time. He said he has spoken with Port of Virginia officials on “how much money can be scrounged up” for road improvements.

“I’ve still got some work to do before I’m happy with everything,” Duman said.

Opponents of the project have cited the expected increase in traffic, particularly with trucks, in asking council to deny the rezoning, saying it will stress the city’s road network. Matan Companies and its representatives have touted the need for the warehouse space to support the Port of Virginia, which is backing the project, and said it would create up to 9,000 jobs and bring in significant tax revenue for the state and city.

Matan Companies and its representatives have been communicating with the city since last September about the project, with the public learning about it in June during the first of two public meetings about it.

Council is expected to take up the matter at its Sept. 21 meeting.

“I’m not exactly sure, still, where I’m going to be on the 21st if I don’t have all the answers I need,” Duman said. “I’d probably like to have another tabling, but realistically, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The agenda for its Wednesday work session, which starts at 4 p.m., includes updates from the city’s Clean Communities Commission and an update on its mosquito control program, including recently detected disease.

During the regular meeting, which begins at 6 p.m., council will receive a briefing from Public Works Director Robert Lewis on the work taking place on U.S. 58 and Suffolk Police Major James Buie will brief council on public safety in the city.

Council is also expected to schedule a public hearing at its Sept. 21 meeting on an ordinance to authorize acquiring property for the Freeman Mill Road bridge replacement project.

The current bridge is a 31-foot long, 22-foot wide single-span structure with timber decking, which the city has said is structurally and geometrically deficient. The new bridge, according to the city, would be longer, wider and higher than the existing bridge. It would be 42 feet long and made of single, pre-stressed concrete voided slab with concrete abutments.

The complete agenda for the meeting can be found online at https://www.suffolkva.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_09072022-2912.