Planners got ‘hoodwinked’

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Perspective is a funny thing. Someone who only has $100 in the bank is going to think that $10,000 is a lot of money. Someone with $100,000 in the bank is going to think $10,000 isn’t so much. Your viewpoint, your perspective is going to be different, depending on your starting point.

This is why the recommendation for approval of rezoning (along with approval for all those use permits and waivers) by the Smithfield Planning Commission of the Mallory Scott Farm is so frustrating and disappointing. Somehow, someway the developer has convinced our planning commission that he is our benevolent guardian — that he only has our town’s interest at heart. In fact, he is so benevolent, he reduced his proposal from 1200 homes to 812 homes. We should be so grateful.

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The problem is, 1,200 was never the starting point. Mr. Napolitano never had any expectation that he could build 1,200 homes. Based on current zoning for those parcels in question, he can build 377 homes. That is the starting point — 377, not 1,200. But he has managed to convince PC members that the starting point is 1,200.

He claims he listened to the people and reduced his proposal down to 812. That is simply smoke and mirrors and I am disappointed that he was able to hoodwink some very smart people.

The fact is, the developer was told when he purchased the property that it was slated for development and that it was going to be zoned NR (Neighborhood Residential) in the future land use map. That designation allows up to two homes per developable acre. The total amount of developable acres (according to the developer’s own map) is 261.5, which results in 523 homes.

Even if you are going to give him the benefit of the doubt, the highest number of allowable homes should be 523. How did we get to 812? Because if you start with 1,200, 812 looks pretty darn good.

Renee Bevan