Letter – Why the rush on Grange?

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Our town planning commission has begun the approval process for the zoning change that will enable the huge real estate development project known as the Grange at 10Main. The very nature of our beautiful little community hangs in the balance.

Just recently our planning commissioners received a whole load of development information

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(almost 200 pages) to review and study and consider in anticipation of its next meeting. They barely had a week to work with that pile of information before they had to begin discussing all of it with the developer, publicly. That was not enough time. However, our planning commissioners did a yeoman’s job with the time they were granted, and their discussion of the matter at last week’s meeting was robust and meaningful.  

Salient points were raised, cogent questions were asked, Chairman Charles Bryan did a masterful job, and while no motions were made, no decisions reached, our astute planning commissioners made a great beginning, within the very scant time allowed. Bravo for our commissioners!

But now they are being pushed to conduct their “public hearing” on this matter in just a month. That is a terribly bad idea. It does not give our commissioners enough time. The developer is asking for a variance/change to almost every part of our zoning ordinances.  

Parking is short of required spaces, buildings are way taller than allowed, houses are closer together and closer to the streets in front than we allow, downstream impacts on our facilities are unidentified, proffers of any kind have yet to be offered (proffers are supposed to accompany the application for a rezoning)  and there are genuine public safety issues unresolved.  

How are our commissioners to decide on matters so important to the quality of life in Smithfield without all the information and in such a short while? Why are they being pushed to hurry? Being shoved into a hasty decision is always a bad idea. Our commissioners will do us a fine job if they are allowed time  to work, and to think things through.  

So let them know, folks, that you care, and it’s OK with you however long it takes them to feel right about their decision.


Chris Torre