Pierceville on Town Council’s agenda

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2015

By Diana McFarland

News editor

The proposed Cary and Main development is the subject of a continued public hearing Jan. 5 before the Smithfield Town Council.

Hearndon MC Builders LLC are seeking a rezoning and land use change to convert 58 acres of farm land to a development that includes 151 single-family homes. This is the second time the public will have an opportunity to speak on the project. The first public hearings were held in November. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The proposed development has raised the ire of nearby residents, particularly those in Goose Hill, who have lodged objections across the spectrum against the development, including density, traffic and accusations against town staff that they are not following procedure.

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The Town Council is not required to vote on the rezoning Jan 5, but the applicant would have to agree to an extension on the land use change amendment, as the council is under a time restraint for action, said Town Manager Peter Stephenson.

The comprehensive plan land use change would be from parks and recreation and some downtown commercial to suburban residential, while the rezoning calls for zoning the property downtown neighborhood residential.

Hearndon recently submitted revised proffers, with the most significant change being how often the houses will be duplicated on each street. According to the new proffers, no two houses shall be the same model and elevation on the same side of the street within three building lots of each other and within a single numbered block. The developer included an eight section “block plan” with the new proffers. The houses are expected to be priced from $240,000 to $320,000.

The similarity of housing styles was a concern raised by members of the Smithfield Town Council during a recent work session with the developer.

The cash proffers, another concern of the town council, remained the same at $2,496.13.

Isle of Wight County suggested that proffers be $7,675 per lot. Cash proffers are considered voluntary and are used to mitigate the costs of development, such as schools, public safety and other basic services.

If the rezoning is successful, Hearndon has also offered to mothball the historic Pierceville house by posting a $100,000 letter of credit to the town to cover the cost. If the developer cannot find an individual or entity to take over and restore the property within one year, Hearndon would complete the restoration and offer the house for sale as a single family home.

The future of the circa 1730 home is the impetus behind the Cary and Main development. Owner Mary Crocker opted to move out and put the property on the market after years of dispute with the town and Isle of Wight County over preservation of her home. 

Pierceville is one of the first houses built in Smithfield and is considered a landmark structure under the town’s historic district ordinance. Under that ordinance, landmark homes are required to be adequately maintained. Earlier this month, the Smithfield Board of Historic and Architectural Review decided to initiate the “demolition by neglect” process.  {/mprestriction}