Another Pierceville idea opposed

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2016

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The leaders of Preserve Smithfield have preemptively discouraged a proposed development for the Pierceville property — and before a formal application has been made to the town.

In an email to architect Stuart Resor, who is proposing an 80-unit development called, “Smithfield Estates,” Preserve Smithfield Executive Director Mark Gay said he had met with “several knowledgeable individuals” who concluded that Resor’s development wouldn’t work due to impacts on schools, roads, sewer infrastructure and potential housing designs.

“Thus, we feel compelled to advise you that there is little/no support for Smithfield Village Estates at this point. One town resident opined, “This is simply a scaled-down version of the Hearndon proposal … and is unacceptable,” said Gay in the email. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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In an email to Gary Ramsburg with Restoration and Consulting Services in Norfolk, Gay said Resor’s drawings looked like “Ticky-Tack-Ville” “dumbed down” from 151 units to 80.

Smithfield Planning and Zoning Administrator William Saunders said Resor has not submitted an application, nor has he seen the proposal.

Hearndon Construction submitted plans for a 151 unit single-family development last year called, “Cary and Main.” After much public opposition, the Smithfield Town Council denied the rezoning application. Preserve Smithfield arose from the controversy surrounding the application.

Gay also informed Resor that his estimate of about $400,000 to restore the historic house on the property was not enough and backed that up with a quote from Ramsburg.

Instead, Gay estimates it will cost from $750,000 to $1 million to fix up the house and barns — above and beyond the $2 million price tag for the 58-acre parcel.

Despite the costs, Preserve Smithfield plans to solider on with its plan to create a colonial working farm using organic seed and acreage for the Smithfield Winery.

Resor said he went to Preserve Smithfield first because they stand to lose or benefit quite a bit based on what happens with the property.

Many of those who started Preserve Smithfield live in Goose Hill Estates, which is located across the street from the part of the farm where new houses would be built.

Resor said their concerns were reasonable and deserves a thorough response — and he won’t more forward until the group is on board with the project is some fashion. He said he’s also spoken with the property owner.

Efforts to reach property owner Mary Delk Crocker’s representatives were unsuccessful.

Resor wants to use the proceeds of the sale of a house he’s built in Suffolk to fund the partial restoration of the historic Pierceville house. From there, he wants to get a developer to consider his plans for the 80-unit development that will include a clubhouse styled after the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg and which will be crowned with a gold-painted weathervane on the cupola that “you will see for miles,” Resor said.

Resor wasn’t enthusiastic about Preserve Smithfield’s plans for a colonial working farm. He said that was attempted on his ranch in California and never made it off the ground because it was hard to find people to pull off the project.

Resor envisions building houses in the Victorian, Colonial and Craftsman styles and priced in the mid-$200,000s for a diverse clientele.

To add pizazz, Resor wants each homeowner to install an ornamental gate.

If the plans do make it before the town, Resor promises no secret meetings and no clandestine activity — allegations lodged against town officials during the application process with Heardon.

Town officials maintain that secret meetings and other clandestine activities were not conducted in with the Hearndon application. {/mprestriction}