Smithfield planners give 4-1 nod to Tractor Supply greenhouse

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Smithfield’s Planning Commission voted 4-1 on April 14 in favor of a proposed greenhouse and drive-thru at the Tractor Supply Co. store at the edge of town.

The planners had been debating the issue since January. The company plans to locate the proposed 3,500-square-foot addition adjacent to the existing store on land currently being used as a fenced outdoor sales area. The drive-thru would replace the store’s existing curbside pickup zone.

Tractor Supply proposes to construct the greenhouse from white polycarbonate panels, with two roll-up curtains facing Benn’s Church Boulevard. The company is seeking an entrance corridor overlay review and two special use permits – one for the greenhouse and the other for the drive-thru.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The town’s Entrance Corridor Overlay District, according to its zoning ordinance, is intended to “protect the aesthetic and visual character” of areas “adjacent to major existing and proposed highway corridors.” The commissioners voted to deny Tractor Supply a finding of its proposed plans being in conformity with the overlay district, but voted to give favorable recommendations to the two requested special use permits.

Per the company’s latest plans, tan material will be placed at the top of the greenhouse to unify the structure with the existing building and shield the polycarbonate panels from view of Benn’s Church Boulevard.

Randy Pack, who serves as the Town Council’s liaison to the Planning Commission, cast the dissenting vote on both special use permits, stating he was “not in favor” of the town “becoming more friendly” to “big box” stores. He’d initially made a motion to deny all three requests, which received no second.

Commissioner Michael Swecker then made the motion to recommend approval for the two special use permits, which was seconded by Commissioner Michael Torrey.

Swecker called the proposed greenhouse “an asset” that would be “good for the town.”

The commissioners, did, however, recommend denial of the company’s request to relocate the awning over the store’s propane tank to the front of the building.

Commissioners Dr. Thomas Pope and Raynard Gibbs were absent from the meeting.

The two requested special use permits will be forwarded with the Planning Commission’s recommendations to Smithfield’s Town Council, which has scheduled public hearings on the matter for its May 3 meeting.