Letter – In support of logistics center

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Recently the following facts have appeared in the Times:

The rate of population growth used by the Planning Commission in the 2020 comprehensive plan was woefully inadequate. Instead of the projected .8% annual growth, the county’s population has been growing 2% annually over the past three years.

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The county administrator has proposed a five-cent increase in the property tax rate for fiscal year 2024-25, a 7% increase.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin vetoed a measure to permit Isle of Wight and other localities to secure revenue for new school construction by increasing the sales tax by 1%.

Considering the pressure on infrastructure funding, you can imagine my dismay upon reading that our Planning Commission had decided not to recommend approval of the Tidewater Logistics Center project near the town of Windsor. The project promises job creation, infrastructure improvements and annual property taxes of $9.5 million.

Job creation should be welcomed by those who fear that their children must leave the county to secure employment. 

The developer will fund infrastructure improvements related to the project and has pledged to fund civic improvements in Windsor.

$9.5 million will go a long way to offset some of the infrastructure costs arising from our growing population; not only schools, but public safety functions like fire and police will be impacted by population growth.

We take for granted that Smithfield Foods will always be here, just as Norfolk thought Norfolk Southern would always be there. Remember the crushing blow that befell the county when International Paper closed its Franklin mill? We need to expand our business tax base, not rely on one or two large entities to provide large chunks of our tax revenue.

Critics cite increased traffic near the project as a reason for rejection. Projects like this are based on demand, and that demand won’t cease because we reject it. It, or similar facilities, will be built, either in Suffolk or further down the road, and the trucks traveling to and from it will still be rolling down 460. I would hate to see Isle of Wight reject Tidewater Logistics Park only to suffer the increased traffic anyway.

The Board of Supervisors will consider the project on May 16. I urge anyone concerned with diversifying our business tax base and providing stability for future infrastructure, fire, rescue, and police funding to contact their supervisor and tell them how they feel.


Mike Abbott