Smithfield-IW Farmers Market Task Force to meet Aug. 3

Published 3:31 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2022

A task force Isle of Wight County supervisors formed five months ago for the purpose of evaluating a cost-sharing proposal for a permanent farmers market is slated to meet for the first time on Aug. 3.

Former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph W. Luter III has offered land and a $1 million contribution toward building a permanent home for the Smithfield Farmers Market in the “Grange at 10Main” mixed-use development he’s proposed at the western edge of the town’s historic district – on the condition that Smithfield and Isle of Wight jointly raise another $2.7 million.

The supervisors created the intergovernmental body in March, then voted in early April to name Chairman Rudolph Jefferson and Smithfield-area Supervisor Dick Grice as its representatives.

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Joining them will be Isle of Wight Commissioner of the Revenue Gerald Gwaltney and Carroll Keen, representing Isle of Wight’s Economic Development Authority. The supervisors also tapped Economic Development Director Chris Morello to represent his department and left two seats for Smithfield’s Town Council to appoint its own members.

At its June 28 committee meetings, the Town Council named members Renee Rountree and Wayne Hall as its representatives on the task force. According to Town Manager Michael Stallings, the roughly two-month delay gave Smithfield “time to select members after we were notified.”

“It has been challenging getting a date and time that worked for all of the participants,” added Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.

The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in The Smithfield Center.

Among the documents the body will be tasked with reviewing is a fiscal impact study prepared by Ted Figura Consulting for LSMP LLC, the holding company Riddick set up for Luter in 2020 while representing him in his purchase of the former Little’s Supermarket and 1730s-era farmhouse known as Pierceville. Luter has since razed both structures, leaving 56.8 available acres at the corner of Route 10 and Main Street for the Grange.

The Grange’s preliminary plans call for three- and four-story apartment buildings, single-family and duplex homes, a hotel, commercial space and over 1,000 parking spaces. According to a full-page advertisement Luter’s son, Joseph W. Luter IV, published in the May 4 edition of The Smithfield Times, the elder Luter at the time anticipated submitting a formal plan for the development sometime in August.

According to Figura’s study, Luter III is requesting the two localities not only “purchase and operate” the new farmers market but also “provide an economic development incentive” for the hotel, and “purchase the development’s infrastructure and utilities through a participation agreement.”

“It is confidently projected that The Grange at 10Main will generate sufficient revenue to support this public participation, after all variable costs of government service to the new development are paid,” the study states.

For the county, the study projects annual revenues of $1.1 million and annual costs of just over $581,000 during the development’s “stabilization period,” resulting in a 1.9-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio.

During the same stabilization period, the study projects annual town revenues of nearly $670,000 and annual costs of $260,500, resulting in a 2.57-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio for the town.