Letter – Don’t subsidize housing growth
Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. It could be so much better.
It could be something to complement and enhance our beautiful town, but it is not. It’s incredibly mediocre. The plan presented by the Luters for Grange at 10Main is what we have to work with, and work with it we will.
So, while I can accept the fact that something extremely ordinary is going to go there, I cannot accept asking the taxpayers to subsidize residential and retail development. That is unprecedented in our county and town. According to an email from the developer to the county and town, the developer is proposing just that.
The Town Council and Board of Supervisors have already committed the taxpayers to $2.8 million for the farmers market. For $2.8 million, we could have put something really nice at Windsor Castle Park on land the town already owns. It is going to be extremely difficult to justify to the taxpayers committing additional millions (or any amount) in reimbursement that the developer is proposing.
This proposal came to light after a FOIA request made by the newspaper to both the county and the town. The county complied with the request with no redaction, but the town withheld the information related to the reimbursement request. Town officials have claimed to be transparent, but it is easy to remain skeptical after seeing this unfold.
I commend Dr. Thomas Pope of the Planning Commission for his willingness to question the figures in a public forum. In researching the responsibility of the Planning Commission, I found that the PC is responsible for “controlling growth, promoting economic health and improving the quality of life for all citizens.” It is very much within Dr. Pope’s purview to look at the economic viability and the economic impact of any new development.
Isle of Wight is the seventh fastest growing county in Virginia. Our population increased over 4% in the past two years. It is clear people want to live here and businesses want to be here. We don’t need to spend taxpayer money to attract developers.