Apartments raise doubts

Published 12:47 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2016

There’s little doubt that more apartments are needed in Farmville for young professionals and others who want a decent, affordable place to rent.

We have serious doubts, however, about the process that has been utilized to determine the safest way to get traffic in and out of a proposed apartment complex on South Main Street.

On May 11, a joint public hearing between the town council and planning commission was held, drawing almost united opposition to a conditional use permit that developer Russell Harper needs to begin construction on the apartment complex near Walmart. A planning commission meeting was supposed to be held immediately following the hearing, followed by the regular town council meeting.

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Instead of looking citizens in the eye and taking a stand, the planning commission chickened out and postponed its meeting until an undetermined date.
Word came Friday afternoon that the meeting would resume at 9 a.m. the following Monday — the worst possible time it could be held. It was too late for this newspaper to inform the citizenry, few of whom could attended anyway at the beginning of a workday.

With few citizens in attendance, the planning commission voted 5-2 to recommend to the council that the permit be approved.

A few months ago, the town purchased an acre of property from Willa B. Wood for $125,000 for the purpose of a retention pond, according to Town Manager Gerald Spates. “We had to have it for a retention pond,” Spates told a reporter, adding that the purchase had no connection to the apartments.

Flash forward a few weeks, and, lo and behold, on May 11, the entrance to the apartments is proposed to go right through the former Wood property near the South Main and Milnwood Road intersection — an area that does not need more traffic.

After the meeting, Spates wrote Wood, telling her that “…I can assure you that no road or entrance will cross the property. It will be strictly used for a holding pond.”

During the commission meeting, Spates said of the Wood property, “… We bought the property … That’s an issue we need to take up with (Wood) … I mean, if council decides they want to shift the road over they’ve got every legal right to do it … There’s always a possibility. Money talks.”

Town council members best think long and hard before jamming this traffic nightmare down the citizens’ throats on June 8.