‘All very troubling’

Published 12:40 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2017

have been looking into the background of the recently-released proposal to build a five-story building on the corner of High and Appomattox streets. Here is what I have found.

Reading through the approved minutes of the Farmville Town Council meeting from July 12, I was perplexed by the statements made by Town Manager Gerald Spates and Robert Martin. 

Spates stated during the meeting, according to the minutes, that for the past few months, he had been working on a special project with Mr. Bobby Martin and his wife Sherry, owners of the properties, along with Mr. Mike Kelly, with Kelly Properties, Inc. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Mr. Chris Phillips, architect, engineer and project manager with Thompson and Litton.

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Why would our town manager be working on such a project when there is no evidence of a need for student housing at Longwood University? Why would our town manager encourage such a proposal and not anticipate strong opposition from the community for the project?

In the same minutes, Martin said that for almost a year he and his wife had been working with a developer on a progressive plan for that area and described it as a special project for the Town of Farmville.

I do not understand the meaning of that statement. Did the town manager or the council authorize or engage the Martins to undertake a feasibility study of such a project on behalf of the town, or possibly at the behest of Longwood University? Did the university somehow suggest to the Martins or to the developers that such a project was indeed necessary? Was the historic nature of High Street taken into consideration?

In a news article in the July 14 edition of The Herald, Longwood University spokesman Matt McWilliams stated: “Longwood has no association with this proposal.”

It is hard to fathom how, with all the people who were involved in this project, it was never made public until the town council meeting July 12.

There are a lot of unanswered questions as to how this proposal evolved, and the community would like to know the answers. 

For me, it is all very troubling. It doesn’t make sense that time and money was spent on this proposal when there was no demonstrative need for more student housing and the concerns of the community were not taken into account. It makes one wonder why the Martins and the developers embarked on such a controversial venture considering the many and varied obstacles to be overcome.   

Spot rezoning that block to R-3A is not in the best interest of the residents of Farmville, especially those folks who currently live on our beloved historic High Street.

Jim Fauci lives in Farmville. His email address is horseshoesjf@gmail.com.