Letter – Town shouldn’t repeat mistake
Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
In the words of Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” I am referring to the application submitted to the Smithfield Planning Commission for the approval of The Grange at 10Main, the development proposed by Joe Luter IV.
The similarities between the approved Mallory Scott project and this one are spooky. This developer needs a Land Use Map Amendment, and so did the Mallory Scott proposal. This developer needs building height waivers, as did the Mallory Scott proposal. This developer needs parking and zoning waivers; ditto for Mallory Scott. The developer wants higher density than the land is designated for, as did the Mallory Scott proposal.
Both developers engaged Ted Figura for their Fiscal Impact Study. In fact, Ted Figura does the fiscal impact studies for most of the developments in and around Tidewater, because his conclusions support the developer’s interests – every time. Some of his conclusions read like a good fiction novel.
The justification for deviating from the existing Comprehensive Plan on the Mallory Scott proposal was that our plan was out of date by 10 years. The town recently (July 2022) completed an update to our Comprehensive Plan, and I can find no compelling reason to deviate from the plan that we spent over $54,000 and more than two years developing.
I was one of the first citizens to voice my support of Joe Luter III developing this very special piece of property in our historic district. Joe Luter III has been a huge supporter and benefactor of his (and our) beautiful town. When Joe Luter IV took out a full-page ad in The Smithfield Times to outline his plan and garner citizens’ support, he iterated that he had engaged Historical Concepts out of Atlanta for this project. You will find no better group to entrust with this unique piece of property. At some point, Historical Concepts was disengaged and a local developer was engaged. The new team has no historical architectural background and their proposal is not worthy of our town. It would fit very well in Chesapeake or Virginia Beach, but not Smithfield.
My hope and prayer is that the difference between the Mallory Scott proposal (which was a forgone conclusion years before it even came to PC) and The Grange at 10Main is that we have a Town Council who will listen to the constituents. We have one chance to get it right.