Letter – Concerns are more than ‘noise’

Published 5:24 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times: 

I am concerned with how Surry County government and the newly elected Board of Supervisors handled a public hearing concerning the Data Center Project at their February meeting. 

I legally advise local governments on land use matters and live in Surry County. I reviewed the proffers submitted by the corporate applicant and found them not legally sufficient to protect future citizens of our county. There were too many loopholes and vague language that favors the corporate developer. 

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Many citizens are not opposed to the overall project but want adequate protections. They voiced this at the public hearing. A board member made a motion to table the matter for more discussions on the proffers. Another board member later verbally attacked her, suggesting that she lied at the meeting. 

A citizen wrote the board expressing concerns. She was told that the citizens who wanted to table the motion were not listening to the facts, “just the noise.” Tabling is a procedure that many localities use to ensure that adequate protections are in place. Some localities legally require two public hearings or that a matter not be voted upon at the same meeting where a public hearing is held. These localities care about their citizens. 

Every citizen, no matter their diverse backgrounds, brings special talents to our county and should be heard. They should not be referred to as “just noise” by our elected officials.

Corporate developers’ main goal is profits and not protection of the citizens. Many rural localities are not a fair match when up against corporate folks. I ask our county government and citizens, when up against corporations, to seek all the input you can, which includes our citizens, so that we are not outgunned. It all concerns me now and for our future generations.


Michael Drewry