Speed cameras, museum and houses on agenda for town-county meeting tonight

Published 12:14 pm Monday, October 16, 2023

Smithfield’s Town Council will meet with Isle of Wight County supervisors tonight at 5 in The Smithfield Center.

On the agenda are a number of matters, including the proposed placement of automated speed limit enforcement cameras outside school zones and the town-county agreement that governs the operation of the Isle of Wight County Museum.

Earlier this year, Smithfield proposed contracting with Maryland-based Altumint to place a camera outside Westside Elementary, the only school located within the town’s limits. The county proposed contracting with Tennessee-based Blue Line Solutions. In June, the county proposed coordinating its efforts with Smithfield for Westside and with Windsor for the two schools located within that town’s limits.

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Smithfield Deputy Police Chief Chris Meier, in May, contended Blue Line’s collection methods could violate a provision of the 2020 state law that allowed $100 fines for motorists caught speeding on camera, though Blue Line disputed the allegation.

Blue Line representatives have stated that for every $100 fine, $75 would go to the county and $25 would go to the company. Randy Campbell, a former Virginia state trooper who’s now Blue Line’s regional senior advisor, told the supervisors in June that the agreement isn’t a true revenue split, and therefore not a violation of the law, as if 100 speeders were fined, but only 80 paid the ticket, Blue Line’s cost of processing the remaining 20 would come out of the revenue the county receives from the fines.

Isle of Wight County, since 2014, has funded the museum’s operating costs, though the cost of the museum’s personnel presently falls to the town. Smithfield’s 2023-24 budget calls for the town to spend just over $241,000 this fiscal year on its share of the museum’s costs, a 34% increase over the roughly $180,000 the museum cost the town five years earlier.

Also on the agenda are transportation improvements and residential and economic development proposals.

Isle of Wight County plans to seek a Virginia Department of Transportation grant to fund the construction of a roundabout on Turner Drive near the site of a proposed Wawa convenience store. The supervisors in September voted to approve a resolution supporting a VDOT revenue-sharing grant application for the project. An accompanying report by county staff stated the supervisors intend to seek a cost-sharing agreement among the county and at least two real estate developers to fund the 50% match for the up to $10 million grant.

The report stated that VDOT, Isle of Wight and its school system, the town of Smithfield and private stakeholders had developed a conceptual application, though Smithfield Town Manager Michael Stallings said he hadn’t seen a proposed cost-sharing agreement involving the town as of September.

Two mixed-use developments along the Benns Church Boulevard corridor, one just outside the town’s limits and the other just inside, are also pending. The proposed Sweetgrass community would add commercial space and 615 homes at the former Yeoman farm, and is currently awaiting a recommendation by the county’s Planning Commission. The Promontory, which would add 262 homes behind the Smithfield Tractor Supply and five commercial parcels along the corridor, is currently under review by town staff.