Nearing completion, Council updated on comprehensive plan’s next steps

Published 4:32 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Suffolk Planning and Community Development anticipates its work on the 2045 comprehensive plan to be completed by the year’s end.

During an update at City Council’s Wednesday, Aug. 2, they are now working with the information accumulated through the public engagement sessions. 

Comprehensive Planning Manager Keith Cannady provided Council with an update steps to come.

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“As we’ve been saying all along about a 24 month process from start to finish, our goal is to wrap up this project and bring a plan to you and the planning commission for adoption at the end of this calendar year,” Cannady said. “And we’re on track for that and we’re revising our schedule based on the amount of work that we need to accomplish between now and then.”

He said about 150 residents attended the June and July open houses providing about 850 individual comments.

Cannady sai participation was seen from both a “diverse cross-section” and “some under-representation” sections of the community, with African-Americans, 25-44 year-olds, and individuals having less than a bachelor’s being listed.

Detailing feedback data, the main topics that the team heard about included maintaining focused growth, fiscal sustainability and preserving agriculture. Supporting development with transportation infrastructure and pursuing public/private partnerships also were noted, along with ensuring high quality development.

“We continued to hear pretty consistent themes, pretty consistent concerns, [a] pretty consistent feeling about the opportunities that are in Suffolk,” Cannady said. “As a planner, that’s encouraging. It makes us feel like we’re on the right track and working on the right things.”

Growth areas

Feedback on growth areas focused on North Suffolk, Nansemond Parkway, U.S. 460, Downtown Suffolk and U.S. 58, according to Cannady’s presentation.

Suggestions included:

  • North Suffolk (mixed use core): Single-family housing and apartment living; entertainment and retail; and walkable and mixed-use corridors. 
  • Nansemond Parkway: Desire for single family residential development with small-scale retail; concerns about the amount of traffic and wetlands preservation. 
  • U.S. 460 (extending west from the central growth area): Maintenance for both agricultural and single-family residential uses as well as opportunities for additional industrial and manufacturing uses. 

Downtown Suffolk: Revitalization through urban shops and restaurants and promoting small businesses; safety improvements; and downtown preservation.

  • U.S. 58 (extending southwest from the central growth area): Desire to keep the area for warehousing and increasing jobs; and making preservation of the remaining open space and agriculture a priority.

Feedback also was mentioned for outside the growth areas. Residents want an increase in recreational opportunities and increase in traveling options. 

Key recommendations, next steps

The top recommendations from the public focused on land use, natural resources, rural lands conservation and schools.

Comments also noted in Cannady’s presentation include making sure infrastructure can support development for rural land conservation, wanting measurable elements and accountability for schools and using waterfronts to attract tourism.

Cannady outlined what will take place in the next few months. Along with providing more updates and topics in future Council work sessions, his department is working on preparation and internal review of the draft plan document and revising it as needed.
After adoption hearings and associated review, plans will move forward to formally approve the document. 

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