Oppose developers, unbridled growth

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Last year, a longtime York County developer proposed a clustered, high-density community on land zoned for much lower residential single-family homes in the Fenton Mill area of York County. Pristine Williamsburg Pottery land was being sold off to a developer for millions, and our community felt helpless to stop their march to consume the remaining pieces of Upper York County’s rural character.

The developer hoped for a quick approval. He had nurtured relationships with York County officials over many years. He sits on the York County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. He inserted ingratiating stories into local media, built a highly polished website and initiated a mailing campaign. Finally, York County had never denied this developer a rezoning request in four decades of doing business here. The skids were greased.

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But York County residents, tired of unbridled growth, worsening traffic, crowded schools, tax increases and undue influence of developers, formed Preserve Fenton Mill, now called the Conserve York County Foundation. Residents engaged our Board of Supervisors and planning commissioners. Civic organizations, such as the League of Women Voters and grassroots organizations such as Conserve Mallory Farm, spoke out on our behalf.

Over 60 citizens spoke out to oppose the rezoning in two public hearings, waiting hours outside in damp, 30-degree weather to speak their minds. As a result, last month the York County Board of Supervisors unanimously denied the Fenton Mill Living application, following a unanimous recommendation of denial from the Planning Commission.

This outcome was inconceivable a year ago, but persistent, fact-based community opposition convinced our leaders. Smithfield and Isle of Wight residents, your leaders will listen if you speak up.

Developers’ primary focus is profit for their company and investors. Developers have a role to play in our communities, but they must build to existing zoning and stop seeking quick profit through high-density projects in rural areas.

Smithfield and Isle of Wight, the very character and charm of your community are at stake. Email your leaders. Visit, like and follow the Conserve Mallory Farm Facebook page. Press your planning commissioners to recommend denial at the May hearing.

You can oppose developers and defeat their plans to transform your community against your will, but you must get involved in voicing your opposition.


Ron Struble


Conserve York County Foundation

York County