Letter – What is still missing in the 2045 Comprehensive Plan

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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Dear Editor,

As a 23-year resident of Suffolk, I have experienced considerable disruptions to the quiet enjoyment of my property. I’ve spoken at city council meetings, gone to “listening sessions,” attended civic league meetings, and written letters. I could address how two former mayors dressed me down at Council meetings for my comments about the cost of development. I could talk about the 2025 or 2035 plans, which are constantly ignored by our planning department and council. I could even point out how the city “saved Suffolk water customers” by joining HRUBS (bills skyrocketed).

No, I won’t discuss that. Rather, I will address the blindness/deafness of current and former city leadership/representation. The 2045 plan is in ‘final draft’ form, and the city staff is hosting three ‘listening sessions.’ The main reason I will NOT be attending: these sessions are just lip service to make the voters/taxpayers whom the city is supposed to be working for feel that we have a say in what will happen in 2045. After a Spring listening session for the 2045 plan, I was speaking with a council member when the mayor walked up and said to the council member that the issues the people are bringing up don’t matter and that the city will do whatever it’s planning to do!

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My main problem with the proposed 2045 plan is what is missing: there is absolutely NO mention of the two Route 17 bridges, Mills Godwin Bridge and Thomas Hazelwood Bridge. Both are two-lane bridges. The development, both residential and commercial, on both sides of this peninsula in Suffolk and Isle of Wight are not mutually exclusive. This is a regional issue, with both municipalities adding to an already over-burdened roadway, yet Suffolk 2045 adds even more development — with no transportation solution — to this corridor. We have experienced traffic jams for years, and the number and duration of those continue to increase. When are our representatives going to step out of the vacuum they are operating in and address this?

It’s a safety and quality of life issue that is the elephant in the room that I have been addressing for many years and the city literally has laughed at me. I’m still not laughing!


Troy Merryfield

Suffolk, Virginia