Comp plan draft flawed

Published 6:22 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Article 1 (“Constitution”) of the Smithfield Zoning Ordinance states its purpose as the intention “to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the public and to implement the adopted Comprehensive Plan for the orderly and controlled development of the Town.”

Specifically stated among its goals and objectives are:

  • (#5) To promote the creation and expansion of land uses that will be developed with adequate highway, utility, health, education and recreational facilities.
  • (#6) To provide residential areas with healthy surroundings for family life.
  • (#7) To protect against destruction of or encroachment of incompatible uses and buildings upon the Town’s historic areas and tourism corridors.
  • (#11) To protect against the following: overcrowding of land; undue intensity of noise; air and water pollution; undue density of population in relation to community facilities existing or available; obstruction of light and air; danger and congestion in travel and transportation; and loss of life, health, or property from fire, flood, panic or other dangers.

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Thus Article I ensures local citizenry that enforcement of subsequent articles of the Zoning Ordinance shall [sic] “do no harm” to the existing quality of life regardless of the inherent rights of the property owner that the town attorney and other town officials like to emphasize as having priority for consideration.

Article 1 also makes explicitly clear that the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance work hand-in-glove, so that the town’s Planning Commission has ownership of both documents.

Numerous town residents have rendered substantive and thorough critique of the current “final draft” of the Comp Plan; the product is seriously flawed. Fortunately, the Planning Commission showed wisdom in tabling the draft for further review before forwarding to Town Council.

Let’s hope that current members of the commission will now roll up their sleeves and ensure remedial action is taken. It is important they produce a quality product that reflects a more useful vision and planning framework for historic Smithfield.


Mark Gay