IW planners approve laboratory

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Isle of Wight County’s Planning Commission voted on Oct. 26 in favor of allowing a former Smithfield Foods office building to be repurposed as a laboratory.

The 3.8-acre campus, located on Monette Parkway near the northern bank of the Pagan River, was initially built as office space for the meatpacking company in the early 1980s, then converted to a data processing center in 1999 a year after Smithfield Foods moved to its current corporate headquarters on Commerce Street. Since that time, the parcel has been zoned conditional limited industrial.

Accelerated Properties LLC, which now owns the nearly 20,000-square-foot building, has requested to amend the conditional zoning to allow a laboratory as a permitted use. The registered agent of Accelerated Properties LLC is Joshua Tawes, according to the State Corporation Commission.

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According to a report from the county’s planning and zoning staff, the laboratory would occupy only the center wing of the building, which is about 5,000 square feet.

The proposed laboratory would test for prohibited or regulated ingredients in vitamins, protein bars and shakes, pre-workout pills and drinks, and other products intended for sale in health food stores.

“It’s innocuous testing, there’s no discharge, there’s no animal testing,” said Tawes’ attorney, William Riddick III.

Riddick was the only speaker at the Planning Commission’s Oct. 26 public hearing on the matter.

Following the hearing, the commissioners voted unanimously, albeit with four of the body’s 10 members absent, to recommend to the county’s Board of Supervisors that the proposal be approved. The matter will go before the Board of Supervisors on Nov. 18.