Concerns to address
Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
Many thanks to The Times for presenting a balanced argument for a thorough evaluation of Luters’ proposed development of the historic Pierceville property (“An open mind on Pierceville,” Jan. 26). However, there are additional areas of concern that should be addressed:
- The way-too-early Town Council push to secure millions in funding as cost-match for the farmers market and parking lot. Truth be told, each of Mr. Joe Luter’s philanthropic gifts to the town has cost local taxpayers — when all was said and done — as much or more than Luter himself put into the public coffers. The return on investments has been questionable on the most recent projects.
- Recusal from formal voting and/or relinquishment of one’s chairmanship — although very much appreciated — does not provide adequate safeguard from conflict-of-interest. Any person who stands to benefit directly from the Luter project should recuse themselves from the room during committee or council meetings when the Luter proposal and matching public financing, accompanying zoning changes and/or changes to the Future Land Use Map are under consideration. The ability to influence the vote is perhaps more threatening than the actual casting of one’s ballot.
- We taxpayers need to see a business plan from the Luters that provides an informed basis for revenue projections and that ensures the development of the Pierceville property complements the Historic District and respects the Colonial legacy of the property.