Locals oppose parking lot permit request

Published 8:07 pm Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A proposal for a tractor trailer parking lot advanced at the Wednesday, Nov. 15 Planning Commission meeting.

The conditional use permit request was submitted in accordance with the united development ordinance to “establish parking, commercial (not owned or operated by a public agency), on property located at 130 Maya Way.”

Principal Planner Joshua Bateman gave an overview of the permit request during the meeting.

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“The parking lot is intended to serve nearby industrial sites, namely the Lot H transload facility that was recently site plan approved by the city back in August,” Bateman said.  “The subject parcel has frontage on both Maya Way and Nansemond Parkway. Nansemond Parkway is considered a special corridor overlay district road, although access in this case is only proposed to be provided to Maya Way.”

Bateman also provided the concerns that staff found during their review of the criteria.

“In general, staff found that the potential for access noise to nearby residential neighborhoods and the visual impacts to the Nansemond Parkway corridor were the paramount concerns that we looked at when we were looking at the seven approval criteria,” Bateman said. “Truck traffic was also a big consideration, but the fact that this Lot H transload facility is not the actual source of the traffic, but rather the 800,000 square foot fulfillment center at the end of NorthGate Commerce Parkway was really the thing that was generating the traffic made the imposition of conditions related to traffic on this particular project impractical. To give you some sense of perspective, the footprint area of the Amazon fulfillment center is 800,000 square feet. That’s more than four times the size of this parcel.

Bateman provided a staff recommendation of approval subject to these following conditions:

  • This conditional use permit is granted specifically to establish commercial parking not owned or operated by a public agency for property located at 130 Maya Way, as identified in Exhibit B property map.
  • The commercial parking must be designed in substantial conformance with Exhibit C, “Proposed Trailer Drop Parking Lot, Concept 1 v2”, dated Oct. 12 and prepared by Kimley-Horn.
  • A solid fence conforming to the detail depicted on Exhibit C, or equivalent fencing approved by the director of planning and community development, must be constructed adjacent to Nansemond Parkway along the frontage of the property to screen the proposed use from view. The fence must be constructed in accordance with all applicable requirements of the unified development ordinance for such fencing, and must supplement the landscaping required by Section 31-412 for properties located in the Special Corridor Overlay District, which shall be planted on the exterior (i.e. street side) of the fence adjacent to the street right-of-way.
  • Prior to site plan approval, the applicant shall conduct a noise simulation study demonstrating compliance with the performance standards for noise set forth in Section 31-608 of the united development ordinance. The study must demonstrate that noise from the proposed use will remain at or below the maximum levels set forth for any residential use receiving noise from the subject property, or shall recommend additional measures to be implemented by the applicant, in accordance with all applicable requirements of the UDO.

Kimley-Horn Agent W. Dave France spoke in favor of the request, while acknowledging the community-based issues.

“To reinforce our commitment to the community with respect to issues like screening and noise, we have offered up the decorative fencing… the landscape screening should soften that edge from Nansemond Parkway as you’re going down it, and of course the acoustical model that was mentioned. This is not something that is done very frequently frankly,” France said.

He said that often when they have development, the UDO doesn’t have noise criteria. “But to proactively prepare an acoustic study just goes to an understanding of the sensitivity of this initial use permit and the situation where it is in relative proximity to other uses like residential that could be impacted by it,” he said. “It’s not completely unheard of to do those, but to do them proactively and to basically agree to them as a condition goes a little bit above and beyond with normal would be. ”

Suffolk Meadows resident Thomas Rein spoke out against the project, with his wife and others in the audience showing their support for him.

“The documented evidence that has been provided to the mayor, the vice mayor, the city manager, the council, the director of public works, traffic engineering, and Suffolk Police Department is so clear in showing traffic violations and enforcement issues that need to be addressed before a project of this magnitude can be approved,” Rein said.

He noted that at the Nov. 16 meeting that City Council was to take up

The City Truck Route Strategy, which the staff will present information on strategies related to the trucking routes in the city and strategies to improve compliance and enforcement in the city.

“The presentation will also include specific recommendations for future city council actions as related to Shoulders Hill Rd and the Suffolk Meadows neighborhood’ where I live, which is 500 feet from this proposed location,” Rein said.

He continued noting that council was also set to consider a motion to schedule a public hearing to be held Dec. 7, 2022 to receive public comment on the restrictions of trucks on Duchess Way, Baron Boulevard and Suffolk Meadows Boulevard with a motion already noted to approve.

“You can see the traffic situation with these trucks in this area is so significant that the city council and the mayor have already scheduled not one, but two discussions on this,” Rein said. “This entire project, including the associated Lot H, is what’s driving a lot of this traffic. It needs to be reviewed.”

He explained that these trucks are going up and down Nansemond Parkway all day long.

“I myself on my Ring camera on my house have recorded 21… Amazon tractor trailers coming through my neighborhood in a 48 hour period,” he said. “It’s ridiculous — absolutely ridiculous.”

Rein also spoke upon the most recent traffic study.

“The last traffic study that they’re using was done on October 2019 to justify that they don’t need to do one right now,” he said. “Which I think is inappropriate and inadequate.”

Planning commisioners motioned to approve the permit request with the recommended conditions from the staff. The vote was 7-0.

“This application, because it’s a parking lot inside the industrial park, if we did not do it those same trucks are coming,” Commissioner Johnnie Edwards said. “And even if we did do a table… the trucks are going to spot A first, and then it’s going to move to B. And if we say no to B, it does not stop A.”

Commissioner Edwards also offered his appreciation to the public about voicing their concerns about the issue.

“This has been very enlightening. You know, it really has,” he said. “You read things and you see things and… you don’t think they’re that significant and you have a discussion and you realize it is. It’s a whole lot more to it than we thought. I appreciate the public coming and sending the emails and all that was said.”

Likewise, Edwards spoke on how the public still has an opportunity to make their voices heard about the issue.

“The good thing about this process is this is not the final decision, there will be another public hearing next month and then you have the planning commission, staff report, and then you open a conversation with the applicant, and then there will be more information on the city council side,” he said.