PC ignored will of people

Published 4:33 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

An advantage to being an appointed official as opposed to an elected official is that you can completely ignore the will of the people, which is exactly what the Planning Commission of Smithfield did on June 8th it they voted to recommend the approval of the increase in units in the Mallory Scott project despite overwhelming citizen opposition expressed in multiple ways.

The project, if approved, could increase the population of Smithfield by 25% or more. Which begs the question: Where is the tipping point? Where is the point where Smithfield goes from a town where we “Savor our small town southern charm” to a place that is neither small nor does it have any charm but plenty of traffic, fast food restaurants and cookie cutter houses.

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The Planning Commission sat through multiple meetings and listened (or appeared to) to many, many people speak in opposition to the project. I attended three meetings and did not hear one person, besides the developer and his minions, speak in favor of the project. Yet when it came to the vote, no one on the board even acknowledged the will of the people, much less used it as a determining factor in their voting.

But the members of the Town Council ARE elected officials. Their job, and, yes, their duty, as such is to determine and carry out the will of the people, even if it conflicts with their personal desires or financial interests.

My advice to the council is to take the conservative approach, especially in the face of so much opposition. Go slow on this. See if the developer builds quality housing. Does he follow through with his promises, or is he just saying what he needs to say to win approval? If you vote to approve the totality of what the developer is currently requesting, and figure out three to five years down the road that it was indeed a big mistake, it is too late to undo that decision.

The members of the Town Council are T. Carter Williams, Wayne Hall, Valerie Butler, Michael Smith, Renee Rountree, Beth Haywood and Randy Pack. Contact them and let them know what your “will” is. They work for you. And let them know that you are a voter and are watching how they vote on this issue. And attend the council meeting set for July 6th, when they will consider the project.


Sue Schwarting