2023 Year in Review – The Suffolk News-Herald

2023 Year in Review

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023


Farmers Bank, TowneBank merger complete

Nearly a year after a bitter split between its founding family and board of directors, Farmers Bank’s merger with Suffolk-based TowneBank was complete.  TowneBank announced that the merger was effective Jan. 13, leaving Isle of Wight County without a locally based bank for the first time in history.


Bennett’s Creek Farm Market shutters its doors

In a news release from company president Martha Shirley, they said the closure of the landmark store on Feb. 20 was due to current economic challenges, including higher labor and food costs, and the market could not compete in the developing area.  

James “Jim” and Martha Shirley said in their news release that they want their customers and the entire community to know that “sadly neither they nor anyone else will be reopening their wonderful Bennett’s Creek Farm Market.”


Traffic video, photo enforcement approved for use in Suffolk

An ordinance approved Wednesday, March 16 allowed for photo and video monitoring of traffic enforcement in Suffolk.  The City Council voted to amend the city code during the meeting and the city implemented work zone and school bus arm cameras later in the year.


Second Tractor Supply opens in Suffolk

Tractor Supply Co., the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, celebrated its grand opening of a second Suffolk store Thursday, April 13 through Sunday, April 16.

Throughout the weekend, the company offered special sales, daily giveaways, and more at the new 120 Maya Way location. 


Mayor talks Momentum in State of the City address

“Momentum” was Suffolk Mayor Michael D. Duman’s keyword from his 2023 State of the City address to the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce on May 16.

The address was held

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Occupants plan to demolish 16 houses in Mariupol to hide evidence of crimes

In Mariupol, the occupants plan to demolish 16 private houses and one of the shopping centers to eliminate the traces of their crimes.

This was reported by the city council of Ukrainian Mariupol on Telegram, Ukrinform reported.

“The occupants have published lists of private houses that are being dismantled in Mariupol. These are 16 houses… Also, the invaders plan to demolish the shopping center (formerly ‘Elizabeth’) near the Central Market,” the message says.

The city council published a list with the addresses of these private houses and emphasized that in this way, the Ukrainian city of Mariupol “is being erased, as well as traces of Russian war crimes against civilians.”

Read also: In Mariupol, occupants install Christmas tree near bombed-out drama theater

As reported, Russia’s aggression has caused one of the largest humanitarian disasters in Mariupol. The city is almost 90% destroyed as a result of shelling. Residential buildings, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, businesses, etc. were damaged and destroyed.

It is known that 3,000 houses in the private sector alone were destroyed in Mariupol.

Many migrants from Russia have come to the seaside city, allegedly to ‘rebuild’ it.

The Russian occupiers are turning Mariupol and the surrounding villages into a military and logistic hub.

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Hermosa Beach 2023: ‘A’ Option BIDS ADU to RHNA of alphabet LVR soup

by Kevin Cody

Hermosa Beach housing laws, in 2023, were put through a blender of State mandated legislation, whose alphabet soup of acronyms, and ambitions rival those of the New Deal, where the term alphabet soup was introduced. 

Whether chopped liver, or liver pate will be the result will depend on the public/private partnerships Hermosa’s city council is counting on to produce a new civic center, affordable housing (Hermosa currently has none), and new city revenue. 

The council’s most ambitious 2023 plan is facilities study Option A, which calls for a new, $100 million City Hall, police station and library.

LVR (Land Value Recapture) is the most transformative 2023 council plan. If implemented, Pier Avenue, from Monterey Boulevard to Valley Drive, will be lined with previously prohibited residential development, as will swatches of Pacific Coast Highway and Aviation Boulevard.

LVR is driven by RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allotment), a State mandate requiring Hermosa Beach to increase residential density by 558 new residences by 2029, reversing a half century of council efforts to reduce residential density.

The new residences must include 64 ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units), of which 43 must be for moderate to very low income residents. (ADUs are residential units of not more than 850 sq. ft.)

Also in 2023, the council approved funding for a downtown BID (Business Improvement District). BIDs tax their members to fund district marketing and capital improvements.

During 2023’s second to last council meeting, on Wednesday, November 29, the council unanimously agreed to advance plans for a new, $100 million civic center on the Community Theater parking lot.

The new civic center would be financed, in part, by the sale, or lease of the current civic center site, voter approved bonds, and personnel savings resulting from more efficient city facilities. AI was

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How Converting N.Y.C. Office Buildings to Homes Can Help the Environment

Arup, a global sustainable-development firm, explored in a report released Wednesday the amount of pollution that could be eliminated if New York City made more office buildings eligible for residential conversions.

The report found that if about 220 office buildings were converted to housing, they could produce 54 percent less carbon emissions by 2050. That would be a decrease of up to 11 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Over half of the carbon savings would come from simply reusing the buildings, the report said.

“Ninety percent of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built, so if we can productively put them to use, it’s a win for the city and for the environment,” said Dan Garodnick, the director of the Department of City Planning.

Other emissions cuts would come from new, more energy-efficient building facades with operable windows, which residents must have. And about half could come from upgrades recommended by the city, like electric HVAC systems, as it pushes for decarbonization, said Tess McNamara, the senior sustainability consultant at Arup who led the study.

New York City is faced with a housing crisis, while many commercial buildings continue to struggle with soaring vacancy rates.

This fall, in a move to create more housing, Mayor Eric Adams proposed changing the city’s zoning code to allow for more commercial spaces to be converted to residential.

And on Jan. 1, Local Law 97, which sets limits for emissions of greenhouse gases from large buildings in the city, will go into effect, with the goal of zero emissions by 2050. But getting to that goal will require expensive upfront costs, argue many property owners. They can also choose

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Bungalow left empty for 30 years now an eyesore with rats invading neighbours’ gardens | Entertainment

A bungalow left empty for 30 years on a pretty street with sea views is now an eyesore with rats invading neighbours’ gardens. Despite being left to decay, estate agents say a house on the plot could sell for more than a million pounds. But in its present state it is actually knocking up to £50,000 off the value of surrounding houses in one of the most desirable areas of Canterbury district in Kent. With sea views and a quiet neighbourhood, West Cliff Gardens in Herne Bay should be an idyllic place to live. But the street’s tranquillity is marred by the derelict bungalow, formerly known as White Wings, which residents and estate agents say is dragging down property prices. Over the past three decades, weeds have thrived – with a significant proportion of the plot now completely covered by nettles and brambles. Next-door neighbour and grandmother-of-three Michelle Houghman says the house, on the corner with West Cliff Drive, has been in a “state of decay” ever since she moved there nine years ago. Ms Houghman, 57, said: “We can sit out in the garden and the rats that live in the house come through the fence – so I don’t let the grandchildren play in the garden or the pool anymore. “Our cat won’t even go outside anymore because he’s scared of whatever is in the house. It’s in a state of decay and it’s bringing down the value of the properties around here.” A local estate agent, who asked not to be named, estimates that the presence of the bungalow could take 5 per cent off the sale price of adjacent homes, which could translate to as much as £50,000 in potential losses. In its current dilapidated state, he reckons the house would sell for between £350,000 and

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Can LA Reverse Order Allowing Tall Buildings Next to Homes?

When Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass signed an executive order seven months ago to relax affordable housing rules for developers, she hoped it would encourage larger projects. It did, but some homeowners don’t like it.

The mayor’s order to fast-track housing may allow for eight apartment complexes up to 80 feet tall to be built next to homes in five single-family neighborhoods across the San Fernando Valley, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Her executive order known as Executive Directive 1, signed in December and revised six months later to bar apartments on single-family streets, created a loophole for projects proposed in Sherman Oaks, Canoga Park, Reseda, Pacoima and Sun Valley.

The directive was meant to speed approval of 100-percent affordable housing and homeless shelters without public hearings, environmental studies and nods from either the city’s Planning Commission or City Council. A revision, which came in June, said such projects couldn’t be built on single-family streets, long protected from developers of large apartment buildings. 

But in the interim, developers filed for eight ED1 apartment projects across the Valley.

They include a 200-unit, 80-foot-tall complex by Chatsworth-based Uncommon Developers at  5501-5511 North Ethel Avenue in Sherman Oaks.

Also they include a 78-unit complex at 10898-10900 West Olinda Street in Sun Valley; a 360-unit complex at 8217 North Winnetka Avenue and an 85-unit complex at 8550 North Variel Avenue in Canoga Park; a 114-unit complex at 19448 West Saticoy Street, a 190-unit complex at 7745 North Wilbur Avenue and an 85-unit complex at 18430 West Vanowen Street in Reseda; and a  202-unit complex at 11070 North Borden Avenue in Pacoima.

Critics accuse the mayor, who issued the directive until it was later clarified, of being asleep at the switch. Maria Pavlou Kalban, co-vice president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, called

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Resolution to explore fencing Galt Gardens voted down


Lethbridge city council narrowly voted down a resolution to examine the cost and logistics of erecting an iron rod fence around Galt Gardens by a margin of 5-4.

If the proposal had eventually gone ahead, the park would have been closed during the evenings to deter negative activities such as vandalism and drug use.

The resolution was brought forward by Mayor Blaine Hyggen and Councillor John Middleton-Hope.

Lethbridge city council narrowly voted down a resolution to examine the cost and logistics of erecting an iron rod fence around Galt Gardens by a margin of 5-4.

Hyggen believed there was no harm in exploring the logistics of fencing Galt Gardens and comparing it to what other cities have done.

“It doesn’t speak to whether we’re going to support it in the fall when the information comes back because we never know what that’s going to look like. But I wanted to be able to make sure that it went out to the community and that we were able to get some information back that we’ve been looking for,” he said.

Hyggen also thought the process could have come back with a different but better idea on how to deal with social issues in Galt Gardens.

Lethbridge city council narrowly voted down a resolution to examine the cost and logistics of erecting an iron rod fence around Galt Gardens by a margin of 5-4.

The proposal was not without its critics.

A crowd of roughly 100 people gathered outside city hall Tuesday to protest the proposal.

Protesters believed fencing the park would serve only to limit accessibility while not addressing social issues that have led some to deem the park unsafe.

“Housing, that’s what we need. The government, our municipal government, needs to be taking this forward provincially and federally

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Grant funding for social home improvements

Nottingham City Council has announced that grant funding is being committed to the improvement of social homes around the area, with a focus on decarbonisation.

Through the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, more than £2.9 million has been secured to make energy efficiency upgrades to an additional 370 social homes. The allocation has come following a successful consortium bid that was led by the Midlands Net Zero Hub, with the overall collaboration bringing over £47 million of funding into the region for retrofitting. Funding is coming from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Homes with low energy performance certificates, and thus harder for tenants to keep either warm or cool depending on the conditions, will be the focus of the improvements. Further benefits for the tenants include lower energy bills, improved health outcomes, and increased neighbourhood pride.

Councillor Corall Jenkins, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment and Waste Services and Parks, said:

“It’s fantastic that we have secured more funding to improve social homes in the city. We know that roughly 30% of the city’s carbon dioxide emissions come from heating and powering homes. As we strive to become the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028, it is vital that we find ways to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock. Nottingham City Council is leading the way on the retrofit agenda, and this additional funding will allow us to continue this success.”

The funding allocation that has come through the second wave of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund will continue to build on the success of previous projects, such as the council’s Greener Housing scheme. Through this, 1,036 homes were improved between 2019 and 2022, with energy usage upgrades contributing to the city’s goal of becoming the first carbon neutral city

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