Planners deny ‘the greater good’

Published 3:52 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Supervisors in Prince Edward County should seriously consider adopting an amendment to their Zoning Ordinance allowing transitional housing in agriculturally zoned areas by special use permit.

We think county planners, when they decided on a split vote to deny the amendment, were in error for many reasons.

Recommending approval to county supervisors is just that. It’s offering advice to a governing body of elected men and women who directly represent those in their districts — whether they live in warm homes they own or drafty places they’re staying for the night.

The commission offered wrong advice.

The amendment wouldn’t have opened the flood gates of homeless shelters to begin popping up in Prince Edward. Each facility, falling under the transitional housing criteria set forth, would require a special use permit — one that affords public hearings and special consideration by planners and supervisors on a case-by-case basis. This allows the needed scrutiny and insight from both the public and appointed and elected officials.

Prince Edward County has a need for a shelter — such as the one proposed by the Farmville Area Rescue Mission (FARM) that’s contingent on the amendment supervisors will soon consider.

“The more I’ve been in this … I’ve found that people leave their belongings under bridges all day until they find somewhere at night, or they sleep with their belongings,” FARM President Johnna Shular told The Herald in October, noting she’s seen this happen in Farmville. She’s been told people sleep in the woods.

Based on a number of sources, Shular estimated that in 2015, 300 nights of shelter were needed to house Farmville’s homeless population.

Supervisors should think long and hard about everyone who lives in their districts before taking heed of the planning commission’s advice.

“A lot of these things are for the greater good,” said Commissioner Cannon Watson. “It’s got to go in somebody’s backyard, if you decide it’s got to go somewhere.”