Letter – IW favors fat cats
Published 7:55 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Editor, The Smithfield Times:
Is the county using a dramatically different standard when it considers planning petitions from deep-pocket corporations than from its own individual residents?
At its most recent meeting, it became clear that the Isle of Wight County Planning Commission is still actively considering a 600-house development on Jones Creek. Compare their consideration of that enormous corporate proposal with how they have dealt with those of us who live immediately across Jones Creek from the planned development.
For example, not long ago my wife and I submitted an application to build a small house (with the footprint of 30 foot by 30 foot) immediately across the creek from the planned 600-house development site. Our plan placed the house the full 100 feet required from the water, but it was only 95 feet from dry marshland on the side that only occasionally gets wet.
Because of the shape of the lot, there was no other location where we could build the waterfront house for which we purchased the lot. All of the neighbors enthusiastically supported building the little house. But the trivial 5-foot shortcoming on the side was enough to give the county an excuse to deny us permission to build, even after a three-year battle with them.
Yet the same county that thought this trivial variation should block our little house, despite the neighbors’ support, is now seriously considering allowing 600 houses to be built immediately across the narrow creek, over the strenuous objection of the same neighbors who supported the little house!
The county’s zoning code says that its purpose includes “preserving and protecting the county’s natural resources and protecting the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Blackwater River and their tributaries.” Are we to believe that a small house 100 feet from the water but only 95 feet from dry marsh endangers the county’s natural resources but building 600 houses immediately across the narrow creek at the same location is protecting the county’s natural resources?
One might forgive those county residents who think that there is some funny business going on here. But the county might be able to avoid this impression by explaining at its next meeting how refusing to let a county resident build one small house is consistent with the county seriously considering letting this large corporation build 600 houses immediately across the creek.