2045 comprehensive plan sessions wrap up

Published 6:30 pm Friday, March 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

With seven stops made across the city in the past month, Suffolk residents have been turning out to express their views and concerns for the updated 2045 Comprehensive Plan.

The final two Winter Community Engagement Sessions Tuesday, Feb. 28 and Thursday, March 2, were no different.

More than 30 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, raising topics such as having a shopping center and museum as downtown incentives, having more charter and trade schools and preserving more green space.

Email newsletter signup

Hearing their concerns were Vice Mayor Lue Ward, City Manager Albert S. Moor II, councilmember LeOtis Williams, Roger Fawcett, Timothy Johnson and Shelley Butler-Barlow, as well as Planning Commission member Mills Staylor, Del. Clinton Jenkins and School Board Member Karen Jenkins. 

“Teach the children what agriculture is, that’s what we’re known for,” said one citizen on preserving the city’s agricultural aspect.

“Growth is not inevitable, Growth can be turned down,” said another citizen, with most not asked to provide their names during the session.

Suffolk resident and House of Delegates candidate Jason Wooldridge spoke positively of the Feb 28 meeting.

“It appears that they are listening to what people are doing, but the proof is always in the pudding,” Wooldridge said. “Running for office, there’s lots of politicians that promise the world and then do not deliver. The follow through is what I am interested to see in what happens tonight.”

He said he does believe the session was productive.

“Obviously people are very passionate about what’s going on with the comprehensive plan here in Suffolk,” Wooldridge noted, saying he believes there is an overdevelopment problem in Suffolk and Chesapeake.

“We see the same thing over and over, and everything that this community outreach is doing is trying to address those concerns,” he said. “So, we’ll see what the follow through is.”

The final meeting March 2 saw more than 20 residents come out again to voice their concerns on issues such as having established businesses in preserved buildings was brought up to rectify the issue of tearing them down. Officials attending this last session include Mayor Michael D. Duman, Moor, councilmembers Leroy Bennett, John Rector and Butler-Barlow and Planning Commission member Mills Staylor.

Another idea raised is to have each community of Suffolk preserve their own identities to differentiate from each other. 

“This idea, perfect idea, which we need to do, solidifies, consolidates, supports, validates zoning discipline,” said one citizen in response to each community preserving their own identity. “If you don’t have zoning discipline, all of this goes by the wayside.”

Director of Media and Community Relations Jennifer Moore said she is happy she was with the way the series of sessions turned out.

“This is the first time that we’ve approached the comprehensive plan in this manner, encouraging community input at this point in the comprehensive planning process,” Moore said.  “And we put a lot of thought behind it by putting a community meeting in each borough, publicizing it, encouraging participation, just designing these sessions to encourage folks to feel comfortable about talking and bringing up issues that are very important to them, and I think it worked.”

For those who were not able to attend, Moore said there are still options for residents to have their voices heard.

“The same six questions will also be online at Suffolk2045.org,” she said. “Like I have been saying the whole series, if you can’t make the session, go online to fill out the survey.”

Those who made it to a session and went home that night and thought about something, Moore said they should go online and fill out a survey so they can get it included and voice their opinion.

“ If you wait another week and you have a different thought on a separate topic, go back and fill out that survey,” Moore said. “It’s there and we want folks to use it. And it’s up until March 15.”

To be heard, go online to suffolk2045.org.

Editor’s note: Updated March 2 officials attendance list at 2:34 p.m., Sunday, March 5, to reflect accurate attendance.