Editorial – IW Planning Commission makes right decision on warehouse project

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Chalk one up for the people.

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission sent a strong message that citizen concerns still matter when it overwhelmingly rejected a request for rezoning and related permits to accommodate a large warehouse complex near Windsor.

The project, which still could be resuscitated by county supervisors, would, if built, disrupt a peaceful residential area and add even more truck traffic to Route 460, the main artery for the Town of Windsor.

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The Planning Commission’s action continues a refreshing recent pattern of prioritizing the views of citizens over the wishes of the leadership class, which salivates over the tax revenue that heavy development brings. It also put metropolitan Hampton Roads on notice that, unlike neighboring Suffolk, Isle of Wight won’t be covered up with warehouses to support the prospering Port of Virginia.

The humongous Port 460 warehouse complex under construction in the heart of Suffolk at Routes 460 and 58 is bad enough for Windsor, which will get much of the traffic without any of the tax benefits. Throw in another large “logistics” complex a stone’s throw from the town limits and life in Windsor stands to be forever altered. 

Don’t get us wrong. We’re all for a strong regional economy, but rural Western Tidewater’s way of life cannot be destroyed in the name of progress. We have the same belief about the massive utility-scale solar farms that threaten to cover up our beautiful countryside so that Dominion Power can meet a state mandate on renewable energy. And, for that matter, we have the same belief about rapid residential development caused by a lack of land in neighboring cities that have already overbuilt, and people fleeing the congestion, crime and other undesirable conditions caused by population growth.

Town of Windsor officials, who were blindsided by county government’s flirtation with the warehouse developer, deserve a lot of credit for saying unequivocally to county leadership that the project is not wanted. Former Mayor Glyn Willis was especially instrumental in rallying citizens to make their voices heard.

Such citizen-minded elected leadership is needed in the northern end of the county. We hope that the Smithfield Town Council and the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors’ elected representatives for Smithfield and Carrollton will take note and follow Windsor’s lead in prioritizing the interests of citizens ahead of the interests of government and powerful people who benefit financially from unwanted growth and development.