Letter – Consider ‘small city’ character before rezoning for more warehouses

Published 5:48 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022

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To the Editor:

Enter the city limits of Suffolk on any of the major highways and you will see a small sign on the shoulder to the right. The sign reads:  “One of America’s 100 Best Small Cities to Live — CNN Money Magazine 2010 — Suffolk, Virginia.”

How did Suffolk qualify for this distinction? What were the criteria for selection?

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Twelve years have gone by from the date on the sign. Suffolk has grown economically, industrially and in

population. Does the Small City characterization still apply? Should the sign be removed? Are there new criteria to be applied?

The answer may be found in the statement at the heading of the City of Suffolk Comprehensive Plan 2035: A Vision for the Future.

This statement asserts that “Suffolk is a nationally renowned, vibrant community committed to the health and vitality of its citizens, which offers strategic growth and diverse opportunities while preserving local character.”

A few years ago the state of Virginia offered a specialized license plate that recognized the farming/agricultural heritage of Virginia. The year 2014 celebrated 400 years of Virginia farming. While agriculture contributes strongly to the Virginia and Suffolk economies, growth has moved into other sectors, including warehousing.

Consider the proposed Pruden Boulevard/U.S. 460 and Pitchkettle Road rezoning to heavy industrial to allow warehouses. I suggest a drive on U.S. 460 toward Windsor, turn around at the Isle of Wight line and

drive back toward Suffolk. At the Suffolk City line look for the small city sign. Along the way, take in the landscape, the businesses and other activities, noting especially the section between Kings Fork Road and U.S. 58.

Then try to picture in your mind what this section might look like in the future with the area filled in with fortress-like, colorless concrete warehouse walls. The question should come to you — is this preserving local character?

Ed Kapinus