Town Council approves Smithfield Foods’ request to raze historic barn

Published 4:56 pm Friday, January 5, 2024

Smithfield’s Town Council has granted Smithfield Foods permission to demolish a dilapidated barn located on company-owned land behind Cure coffeehouse on North Church Street.

The unanimous Dec. 5 vote overruled a September vote by the town’s Board of Historic and Architectural Review to deny permission to raze the structure.

Julie Hess, a newly appointed representative to the seven-member BHAR, contended at a November council meeting that the barn dates to the 1880s and that not every option for restoring or relocating the barn had been explored. Amy McClure, a lawyer representing the company, contended at the same meeting that the 1,144-square-foot barn had deteriorated to a point that it no longer has historic value and is unsafe.

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Smithfield Foods appealed the denial on Sept. 25, six days after the BHAR vote, in accordance with a provision of the town’s zoning ordinance that gives an applicant a 14-day window from the date of a BHAR decision to request reconsideration by the council. The council’s Dec. 5 vote came after Smithfield Foods offered the Isle of Wight County Museum first pick of any fixtures and hardware in the barn “reasonably able to be preserved.”

The town’s director of community development and planning, Tammie Clary, told the council on Dec. 5 that the company had further offered to “consider” having a contractor remove the structure while preserving certain pieces of the barn, provided the work is done “in a safe manner” and “does not materially increase removal costs.”

The barn was still standing as of Jan. 3. Jim Monroe, Smithfield Foods’ vice president of corporate affairs, told The Smithfield Times the company is working to engage a contractor who can safely demolish the barn while preserving any items deemed to have historical value.

“Salvage and demolition will take place once we have identified the right team, but aren’t able to provide a specific timetable at this point,” Monroe said.

McClure, at the Dec. 5 meeting, said the company does not presently have plans for the land once the barn is removed.