Planners wisely table PMUD

Published 6:25 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

For those of us in attendance at last week’s Smithfield Planning Commission meeting, it was obvious there are still conflicting agendas with regard to the purpose and intent of the Town of Smithfield as the applicant pushing for the rezoning of the Pierceville property from “Community Conservation” to “Planned Mixed Use Development (PMUD).”

As we listened intently to the discussion, it was clear to many, considering such an ordinance seemed to be already “predetermined” and was purely based on “ill-advised” guidance that couldn’t have been more wrong in asserting Smithfield’s zoning ordinances are outdated. When members of the PC asked clarifying questions, many of the responses provided clearly seemed to push a predetermined agenda concerning the PMUD.

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As one savvy commissioner responded, “We don’t need another zoning option; as we are quite capable of evaluating development proposals by applying the zoning criteria we have already.”

The large number of town residents at the meeting were in strong agreement that “PMUD” zoning as presently written for high-density, mixed-use development has no place in/near the Historic District — and perhaps has no place in our unique town.

Wisely, the Planning Commission voted unanimously once more to table PMUD, so that it can convene a workshop to evaluate its merits. We applaud the Planning Commission’s decision and would also recommend selecting at a minimum of two town residents to participate as part of the commission’s working group.

Make no mistake: Joe Luter III, his son and their partners were well aware that 80% of the Pierceville property was zoned “Community Conservation” when they made their purchase. To make the declarative statement that “without PMUD zoning approval there will be no application” smacks of privileged arrogance. Two previous developers have been sent packing by the town residents these past seven years because they intended to “measle-sheet” historic Pierceville with intensive development.

Simply stated: Our Smithfield Historic District has been well-thought out and its vision preserved; members of both the Planning Commissions and the Town Council must protect our vision of a genuine small Southern town and not convey a “priori” assurance to the Luters they can do whatever they want at Pierceville.

Rather, we simply need to see a business plan from them. Meanwhile, we should leave our zoning ordinance and future land-use map alone.


Dennis Arinello