We’re disappointed

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

We have several reasons to be disappointed in last week’s action by the Farmville Town Council to give developer Russell Harper’s Farmville Associates LLC a permit to build a 100-unit apartment complex between Walmart and the Greens South Subdivision.

Safety and transparency have been the citizenry’s two biggest concerns during this process, and the council’s 5-2 vote to approve the conditional use permit did nothing to alleviate those concerns.

As far as safety, additional entrances to and from the complex are essential in order to reduce traffic at the primary entrance on South Main Street. On this, the council put the wagon before the horse by failing to make alternative entrances mandatory.

Despite Harper’s saying that Tractor Supply Co. had already nixed the use its parking lot as an entrance and that he had no firm answer on proposed access through the Walmart Shopping Center, the council approved the permit, conditioned on his continuing to explore — “in good faith” — other exits and entrances.

As it stands, the only known entrance and exit to the apartments will be one with no stoplight on congested South Main Street, which brings us to another disappointment.

The council gave Harper the option of either using his deeded access for a South Main Street entrance with a right-turn-only stipulation or using town property about 74 feet south of Harper’s property for the entrance road. The council should have stopped with the first part of the condition.

The southernmost entrance would use an acre of land once owned by Willa B. Wood, who was promised that it would only be used for a retention pond, according to a May 12 letter written on town letterhead by Town Manager Gerald Spates. The town broke that promise last week without so much as an apology to Mrs. Wood.

And rather than relying on a mini traffic study, the council — in the interest of public safety — should have commissioned a full study, after supplemental entrances and exits were set in stone, determining the impact of the project.

We commend At-Large Councilmen Dan Dwyer and Tom Pairet for opposing the issuance of a permit that fails on many fronts to protect the interests of Farmville and its citizens.