Letter – Don’t violate citizens’ trust

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Numerous concerns exist with the proposed Tidewater Logistics project just outside of Windsor, including impacts on a long-existing neighborhood, safety concerns over the traffic scheme, noise concerns, the importation of hundreds of low-paying jobs and uncertain tax revenue benefits. 

However, the most significant risk in approving this project is a substantial loss of trust between the Board of Supervisors and the citizens of Isle of Wight.

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The 2020 Comprehensive Plan, which was unanimously adopted, called for the property the project is on (Parcel 54-01-086J) to be zoned for mixed residential/commercial use. Sometime between August 2022 and March 2023, the county’s economic development department started advertising the property as part of Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park. As of this writing, I have not been able to find when or who authorized this change. I have a pending FOIA request with the county that will hopefully be more informative. 

Moreover, the county staff asserts in its cover sheet for Thursday’s public hearing on the project that “Parcel 54-01-086J is currently owned by the Industrial Development Authority of Isle of Wight County which originally purchased the property in 2008 in order to expand the Shirley T. Holland Industrial Park.” This statement, if true, would imply that the county staff has been providing potentially misleading information to the public for over 15 years. The alternative, that this is a recent fabrication, is equally troubling. In either case, it raises serious questions about the county staff’s integrity regarding this project.

In January, Supervisor Renee Rountree pushed the idea for a growth task force to involve more stakeholders in development decisions. Despite that effort not coming to fruition yet, the stakeholders have weighed in overwhelmingly on this project. Citizens have made their views clear, the Town of Windsor government unanimously passed a resolution making its views clear, and the Planning Commission resoundingly made its views clear. All agree this is a bad plan. 

If the Board of Supervisors approves this plan, then it would call into question the value of a Comprehensive Plan, the county’s commitment to thoughtful zoning and planning, and the real purpose behind a growth task force.


Lewis Edmonds