Smfd. prepares for growth

Published 9:18 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

By Diana McFarland


The 2020 U.S. Census is looming, and with it, preparations for the day when the Town of Smithfield nears or exceeds a particular population threshold. 

When the town reaches 10,000 residents it triggers the need, by state law, for it to have a stormwater engineer on staff, according to John Settle, Smithfield’s community development and planning director.

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In anticipation of that possibility, Settle has requested that position in the upcoming fiscal 2021 budget, said interim Town Manager Sanford “Sandy” Wanner. 

In 2010, Smithfield had a population of 8,093, according to the U.S. Census. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

By 2018, the Census estimated Smithfield’s population had grown to 8,441 — a 4 percent increase.

When a town hits 10,000 residents, it becomes an MS4 small locality and all stormwater permitting must be done in-house, said Settle.

MS4 stands for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, and is administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Localities that maintain an MS4 permit own and operate a storm sewer system. 

Currently, Isle of Wight handles stormwater management for the county as well as its two towns. The county did, however, get out of its MS4 permit after it convinced the state it neither owns or operates a storm sewer system. 

Going along with a stormwater program is the need for a stormwater fee. 

All Isle of Wight residential property owners now pay $54 a year to cover the cost of administering the state-mandated stormwater management program. Commercial property owners also pay a fee, which is calculated on an individual basis. 

When Smithfield does decide to administer its own stormwater program, it will also charge an annual fee, said Settle. 

However, town residents only pay the fee to the town, not the county, when that happens, said Settle. 

An increasing Smithfield population has also spurred Wanner to begin talks with the county about sharing a building inspector position. 

Currently, Smithfield performs all zoning and environmental permitting, but when it comes to building permits and inspections, that falls under Isle of Wight County, said Settle. 

In the end, when Smithfield reaches 10,000, it will mean adding these two positions — stormwater engineer and shared building inspector, said Town Engineer Wayne Griffin.

“It’s just something we’re aware of and are waiting to how see how everything works out,” said Griffin.  

Smithfield continues to grow, and the Town Council recently approved a 150-unit development near the corner and Battery Park Road and S. Church St. Napolitano Homes alerted the town last year that it is eyeing another 1,100 housing units at two properties it owns along Battery Park Road. If all those units are built, it will likely push the town population beyond 10,000 in the coming years. 

The U.S. Census results will be released in early 2021. {/mprestriction}