Residents concerned about newly-approved development

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Residents of the Old Huntersville neighborhood in Norfolk are not happy about a newly approved $20 million development nearby.

Norfolk City Council just approved low-income apartments and permanent supportive housing for the homeless on a currently empty lot off Church Street, but the vote wasn’t unanimous. WAVY.com talked to people on both sides of the debate Thursday.

Most homeowners in Huntersville say it’s an area slowly trying to rebound. Martin Smith said in order to keep the neighborhood’s recent forward progress for the sake of their children, their efforts are focused on one thing.

“Just keep us safe,” Smith said. “We just want to be loved, just like Ocean View, loved like Suffolk, loved like everybody else. My son was born in Huntersville, which is a part of Virginia that needs help and it needs a lot of prayer and a lot of community support.”

He’s not in favor of the development and neither is Councilman Paul Riddick, who voted against it.

“What they’re doing is they’re creating a slum 10 years from now,” Riddick said. “In the mid 1980’s, they had a developer come in and put apartments in and they became dilapidated. The community put forth a valiant effort to make it single family again.”

The proposal called for 40 apartments for the homeless with support services on site, 40 low-income apartments, and 80 apartments that will go for market rate. Riddick said they’re additions the community can’t handle.

But at the council meeting, there were those who spoke in the proposal’s defense.

“As a tax payer, I’m happy to see that Lunar Developments is willing to buy this vacant untaxed property,” said Councilwoman Alveta Green.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Mike Kenney, who owns a business near the empty lot. “A lot of other neighbors probably do not, but I think it’s well justified.

Around 100 people in Huntersville signed a petition opposing the development, but that doesn’t matter, now that it’s been approved by Council. The next step is for the proposal to go before the city’s Design and Review Committee.

Only time will tell what impact the development will have. Count on 10 On Your Side to update you as things progress.

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