Letter – No tax dollars for Grange
Published 5:46 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
During the Mallory Scott Farm approval process, it felt like the decision had been made well before the public hearing, and that no public input was going to change the decision.
While I realize some of the public input was unrealistic (e.g., the town does not have the authority to insist land remain a farm indefinitely), it felt like all of the public comments were immediately disregarded. I hope this will not be the case with the Grange at 10Main development, as there are a lot of questions that should be answered prior to any approval of this project.
Regarding the Grange plan specifically, I am very much against the concept of using taxpayer dollars to help subsidize a private development. Although the Luter family has done a lot for the town, this is a development they are building for profit. There is no reason for a public body like the town to commit public money to help a private developer make even more money.
Mr. Luter is an intelligent man, and he would not be pursuing this development if he had not concluded that it will be profitable. Any tax dollars contributed will simply go toward increasing his profits. Although I was not in favor of the Mallory Scott Farm approval, at least that developer did not have the audacity to ask the town to help fund his development.
I am aware that something will be built on the property, and I am not opposed to mixed-use development of the type proposed. In fact, I would like to see more development incorporate elements to allow for people to walk or bicycle to shopping, groceries, etc., and not have to take a car. However, I see no reason to spend tax dollars (or “economic incentives”) for a private development.
I also question the amount of contribution to the proposed farmers market. While a permanent home for the market is a good idea, we do not need a “Taj Ma-market.” Why must the decision be between a multimillion-dollar facility and nothing? Surely a simpler structure would serve the purpose just fine, as is done in Surry or Blacksburg.