Aberdeen events center denied by Board of Supervisors

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Former Smithfield Foods executive Joseph W. Luter IV’s plans for an event center at Aberdeen Farm were denied Thursday with a 3-2 vote by the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors.

Smithfield District Supervisor Dick Grice and Newport District Supervisor William McCarty voted in favor of the special use permit.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Carrsville Supervisor Rex Alphin and Windsor Supervisor Joel Acree were swayed by the number of people, both at the meeting and who had signed a petition, against the application that would have allowed up to 30 events a year, with varying amounts of guests, on the property located in the Days Point area outside of Smithfield.

“That community is speaking en masse,” said Alphin. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Acree said the special use permit was an “awesome opportunity” to control the number and size of events at Aberdeen, but said the Board was there to represent the people.

The special use application for one parcel at Aberdeen would allow a prior permit on an adjacent property to be voided — a permit that presumably allowed for unlimited use for skeet shooting and corporate events.

Alphin pointed out that was possibly an erroneous argument, given that large skeet shooting and corporate events haven’t been held there recently.

“If they could do anything they wanted they wouldn’t be applying for a permit,” Alphin said.

Hardy Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson, who had argued vehemently for another event center application in Rushmere earlier in the evening, said the Aberdeen permit was probably the best option, but had to respect the residents there who didn’t want it.

During citizen comments, a number of Days Point residents spoke against the special use permit, with Lynn Faulkner stating they had a petition with 244 signatures against the application.

Despite the number of signatures, “we never felt we were on a level playing field,” she said.

Former Newport District Supervisor Stan Clark spoke in favor of the project, stating that Aberdeen had been used in a similar fashion for years without incident and that there was no legal reason to deny it.

The property owner is entitled to host events under the county’s agritourism ordinance, which allows for up to 12 events a year with up to 200 people.

Impact unclear

What the decision on the Aberdeen Farm application means for another event center application in Rushmere is unknown.

Earlier in the evening Thursday, the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors held a public hearing for an events center on Lawnes Drive. Many of the objections to the Lawnes Drive project were similar to those voiced in opposition to Aberdeen, and prior to that, at Monette’s.

In addition to those two applications, Accelerated Properties was denied a rezoning request earlier this year that would have added an event center to a list of conditional uses of its property, also located in the Days Point area and locally known as Monette’s.

After being denied by the Isle of Wight County Board of Zoning Appeals, Accelerated Properties took the Board of Supervisors to court, but the suit was recently withdrawn.

At the same time, another banquet and event center on Bowling Green Road was approved by the Board earlier this year and received no opposition.

A county spokesman doesn’t think the differing results of each application are grounds for a lawsuit.

“The Board has the authority to act on each of the applications as they deem appropriate. All three applications (Aberdeen Farm, Lawnes Drive and Monette’s) are different in certain respects. The fact that the same arguments are used does not, in and of itself, make the applications the same, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.  {/mprestriction}