Letter – Unanswered Grange questions
Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
I’m not against the Grange development; however, our governmental checks and balances are not operating as intended.
The Planning Commission work session on the Grange, after project introduction to the PC on May 8, demonstrated review of the project by the town — to ensure development is in the best interest of the town — is not working as intended.
Roles of the government bodies, by Virginia Code, and reflected in the Town Code:
- Planning Commission: Commission shall consist of members, residents of the town qualified by knowledge and experience to make decisions on questions of community growth and development.
- Town Council (website): reps of the people to enhance the quality of life in Smithfield working with town staff, Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors and the community for the purpose of promoting public health, safety, order, prosperity and other services. Committed to providing the highest quality services and meeting the present and future needs of the community in a fiscally responsible manner.
- Attorney: Smithfield code doesn’t identify a purpose. Blacksburg statement is aligned with other Virginia localities: The purpose of the town attorney’s office is to provide effective and efficient legal services, promote accountability, trust and openness in government and focus on outcomes that are fair and equitable while protecting the best interests of the client.
The Smithfield Times article (“Email details possible Grange tax subsidies”) last week demonstrated that this developer is seeking well over the $2.8 million already committed by the town and county — a shortfall the town is expected to absorb. Citizens learned this from county FOIA responses – not provided by the town.
The town attorney says this shortfall is not for the Planning Commission to consider – it should go to the Town Council. The PC members – with the exception of two – came unprepared to serve as intended — to ask questions to allow the PC to make informed recommendations to the Town Council on matters involving growth and development.
Council members who were elected ran on transparency. There are many unanswered questions that need to be resolved before this development goes forward.