Consultant: Consider density in new entrance guidelines

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A consultant working for Smithfield’s Planning Commission has recommended the body take into account differences in the types and density of developments surrounding Smithfield’s “entrance corridors” when it crafts new design guidelines.

The current guidance document, which dates to 2005, designates 500-foot-wide zones along each side of North and South Church streets, West Main Street, Benns Church Boulevard and Battery Park Road as the town’s “entrance corridor overlay district.” A provision of the town’s zoning ordinance requires that new construction occurring within this zone be “appropriate to town character.”

The Planning Commission previously discussed revising the 18-year-old guidance document in July. The eight-member body’s goal is to bring it into conformity with the town’s 2022 revisions to its Comprehensive Plan, which lists among its objectives the creation of a more walkable South Church Street by “prioritizing” bicycles and pedestrians.

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The circa-2005 document presently applies a single set of guidelines to all designated entrance corridors. Meredith Johnson of the consulting firm Johnson Planning and Preservation, however, has noted the density and architectural style of the highway-like five-lane segment of South Church Street by Smithfield’s Food Lion is very different from the historic neighborhoods where the road narrows to two lanes, or the industrial meatpacking plant on North Church Street at the northern outskirts of the town.

A next step in the process will be the drafting of new guidelines.

Commissioner Thomas Pope said he envisions the rewrite as a “working document” that will be easy for developers to read and understand prior to presenting plans to town staff or the commission.

Community Development and Planning Director Tammie Clary said another goal of the rewrite is to extend the entrance corridor designation to the stretch of Battery Park Road past its intersection with Nike Park Road. Ahead of approving the 812-home Mallory Pointe development on the former Mallory Scott Farm, Smithfield’s Town Council worked with Isle of Wight County on an annexation agreement that moved the entirety of the farm within Smithfield’s borders.