Letter – ‘Grange’ is a ‘money grab’
Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
So now Joe Luter IV insists that his development plan for “Grange at 10Main” is wholly compliant with the town’s new Comprehensive Plan for Future Land Use. Mind you, several conflicted members of the town’s elected and appointed bodies worked furiously these past 12 months to redesignate the historic Pierceville acreage from “Community Conservation” status to future “PMUD” development (over the strong protests of town residents at multiple meetings of the Planning Commission and Town Council). No one seriously believes PMUD was the brainchild of the Richmond-based consultant who drafted the Comprehensive Plan.
Additionally, the exceptions that Joe IV’s developmental team are requesting in the recent proposal will essentially obviate each of the Planning Commission’s restrictive changes from last year’s five months of review and discussion about PMUD.
Eight years ago, William Darden proposed a 151 look-alike home development for the very same 55-plus acres of Pierceville property. That plan was rejected by the Planning Commission on a 4-3 vote, and by Town Council by a 5-2 margin (then-mayor and vice mayor voting to approve). The consensus was that Mr. Darden’s plan proposed a too-intensive buildout on 38 net-developable acres, despite his offer of limited proffers and modest repair of the Pierce home.
By comparison, the Luter plan more than doubles the density of Darden’s proposal. And he offers no proffers for infrastructure costs. Rather, he seems to expect the taxpayers to fund most of his costs.
Make no mistake: “Grange at 10Main” has no philanthropic purpose but is purely a money-grab by already wealthy individuals who will leave taxpayers indebted for a healthy sum, and for a long time. Thomas Pierce was a very historic personage for Isle of Wight County; the legacy of his property deserves better than a plat of asphalt jungle.