Isle of Wight approves 216-acre Smithfield annexation

Published 4:26 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

Isle of Wight County supervisors on Feb. 15 approved Smithfield’s annexation of 216 acres across Turner Drive from Smithfield High School.

Smithfield’s Town Council will also need to approve the boundary adjustment for it to become effective June 30.

Currently, the town-county border along Great Spring Road cuts southeast across a manmade lake at the corner of Benns Church Boulevard and Turner Drive. The adjustment would move the entirety of the lake within the town’s limits and extend the Turner Drive boundary just over a quarter-mile down the road. The town’s new southern boundary would largely follow a narrow stretch of Cypress Creek.

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The 216 acres and an adjacent 133-acre parcel already located in the town limits behind Tractor Supply together form the partially reclaimed Bay Sand mining operation or “borrow pit.” The 216 acres are deeded to the Mollie Turner Trust, while the 133 acres are deeded to L&L Land Development LLC, the holding company for a mixed-use development dubbed “The Promontory” that proposes to add 262 homes and five commercial parcels along Benns Church Boulevard. 

Henry Layden, who’s owned the sand mine since 1991, told The Smithfield Times in 2023 that Charlottesville-based Greenwood Homes had approached him roughly two and a half years ago about selling the 133 acres. County Attorney Bobby Jones said he’d personally spoken to representatives of the Mollie Turner Trust who are unopposed to the annexation and want their land to become part of the proposed Promontory.

““They desire this because they want to be part of that project,” Jones said.

According to County Administrator Randy Keaton, very little of the 216 acres adjacent to the proposed Promontory site are buildable. Most are either wetlands or water. But were the buildable acres to be added to the Promontory, it would subject Layden and Greenwood to two different sets of rules due to the town-county line bisecting the lake.

“If this is developed as residential as has been proposed, this will have no effect financially on the county,” Keaton said.

In Virginia, town residents are still deemed residents of the county in which the town is located, and pay taxes to both governing bodies.

The last time Smithfield and Isle of Wight jointly agreed to an annexation was in 2018, three years ahead of the town’s 2021 rezoning of the 812-home Mallory Pointe development off Battery Park Road. At that time, the town and county jointly agreed the town would take in the 212-acre former Scott Farm to place the entire 500-acre development within the town’s limits.

Under a water agreement with the county Smithfield renegotiated in November, the county would have the right to sell water directly to residents and businesses that move into the proposed Promontory and any development that occurs on the adjacent 216 acres.

Greenwood Homes submitted a rezoning application for The Promontory to the town’s planning and zoning staff last August, which has yet to reach Smithfield’s Planning Commission or Town Council. Under the boundary adjustment, any development that occurs on the adjacent 216 acres would also be reviewed by the town rather than the county.

A term of the 216-acre annexation agreement would prohibit the town from attempting to annex any additional land over the next decade.

Supervisor Don Rosie said he’d received comments from area residents referring to the annexation as a “land grab” by Smithfield, but he disputed the characterization.

“That is not what’s going on; it’s a real collaboration, a give and take, and I think it benefits the county as much as it benefits the town,” Rosie said.

“It’s about making this piece contiguous,” Supervisor Renee Rountree said.