Citizens speak out to preserve rural and agricultural areas – The Suffolk News-Herald

Citizens speak out to preserve rural and agricultural areas

Posted 8:15 PM Thursday, November 3, 2022

Citizens and members of Citizens Against Rezoning Efforts for Suffolk (CARE4Suffolk) came to City Council on Wednesday evening to oppose rezoning efforts at the intersection of Lake Kilby and Lake Cahoon.

Both Ann and Bryan Harris spoke to council members during their public comment period at the Nov. 2 meeting about rezoning issues in their area.

“This area is primarily zoned as a rural estate district and it should remain that way. Maintaining this rural estate will ensure a predictable and orderly level of growth that will blend into this area,” said Ann Harris. “We’ll also be asking a lot less of the city than a development of over 200 homes.”

Harris also shared how farming life is the main reason she and her husband call Suffolk their home.

“I can tell you that wanting an acre or more of land is not a thing of the past. My husband and I moved to Suffolk 15 years ago to the lakeside area,” she said. “We loved the small town center and found it amazing that the rural areas were so close and present in the town’s atmosphere. The longer we lived here, the more inspired we became to find our own land, and eventually we found ourselves installed here.

Likewise, Harris told the council that maintaining their rural location is more beneficial in the long run.

“Keeping the Lake Kilby and Lake Cahoon roads area as rural estate allows for growth, but in a more controlled and less destructive way,” she said. “Please keep that in mind when this matter comes before you.”

Ann’s husband, Bryan Harris, also took the time to talk about the importance of preserving the town’s agricultural history.

“Consider this, agriculture and animal husbandry are still a generation away from disappearing. If knowledge and land are not perpetuated, they are lost forever,” said Brian Harris.

“I would like you to think about the words you and we use to talk about this subject. In the conversion and orientation documents, we and the city council see the words “urban, suburban and rural” and this is the order in which we always see them. Notice how we put “rural” last? Even on the list of discussion groups for the 2025 global plan, the agricultural advisory committee, it is listed last.

Brian Harris further touched on the rural aspects of Suffolk being the heart of the city.

“What if we all made a deliberate effort to change the way we talk about and think about our community,” he said. “The rural parts of Suffolk are the literal source of our heritage and if preserving our agricultural heritage is a priority then we must treat it as such, highlight it and make an immediate change in that messaging,” he said. he declares.

Brian Harris said he doesn’t require a motion or a hearing. “Just start putting ‘rural’ first in the things you say,” he said. “We are all creatures of habit, and the things we say often become the things we do.”

Council members thanked them for their words and for coming to express their views.

“It’s literally hundreds of small farmers in our town…there are good people all over our town in Chuckatuck, North Suffolk, in my borough, who just want recognition that they’ve chosen Suffolk for the lifestyle,” Councilor Timothy Johnson said. “We are hearing the voices of the city, the people want to be heard and want us to recognize what they are doing and I think we are all sitting here waiting and listening.”

Councilman LeOtis Williams said they were listening. “

“We hear what you’re saying,” he said.

“I would also like to start by thanking the speakers for coming out tonight and speaking,” said Deputy Mayor Leroy Bennett. “Make your voice heard.”

Mayor Michael Duman said based on their comments and in particular some of Councilor Johnson’s comments in the past, “we may need to review some of our processes right now, in terms of notices, timelines and information provided,” he said.

The mayor went on to say that there was no will not to ensure transparency.

“We just have to make sure we have the means and the methods and we actually do it,” Duman said. “It has been discussed and will be a topic of discussion. Probably after the first of the year we will have a retreat. These are some of the things we need to visit, make sure there is enough time for people to respond. Not only the citizens, but also the people on the planning commission and even ourselves on the municipal council.

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