Brian Vincent: PUDs: Why here and why now? Pt. 2

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Brian VincentEditor’s note: This is the second of a two-part column from Farmville Mayor Brian Vincent, detailing the thoughts he expressed at the council’s last meeting on planned unit development.

Better Housing Coalition is interested in Longwood Village. We’ve known about this since July 2022, when an information session happened at Moton. PUD discussion arose in January 2023 on council and planning commission. Right now, almost all opposition to the PUD seems to be conflating the zoning amendment with this potential Better Housing Coalition project. To start, that potential project is a phased project with the first phase by-right. Meaning they could do it now. The following phases may require more flexible zoning.

Now we know that another bidder has arisen for that property, the Farmville Housing Association. In conversations with some of the partners, I suggested and encouraged them to come before the planning commission, and council to discuss what they wanted to do. I wanted it all out there, because if we are routinely putting the cart before the horse, I want everyone to have all the information.

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That portion of this deal, the actual deal for that property, has nothing to do with this body. The issue seems to be that folks believe this PUD is all about one potential project. To say that this PUD has nothing to do with that one project would be disingenuous. To say that it is completely about that one potential project is also disingenuous. Let’s have a good faith discussion about the proposed ordinance policy.

The work that local governments, state governments, and national governments engage in is always informed by businesses, developers, voters, etc. Government bodies are not the sole incubators of ideas for improvements. Many jaded, cyclical folks would actually proclaim the opposite.

The whispered insinuations of nefarious intent during this process have bordered on absurd. With even attempts to impugn our town manager’s character and mine on occasion. Now I campaigned by knocking on every door in this town, and I was elected by the voting public based on the values I embodied and the energy of my ideas. I won’t waste anymore time championing myself. I didn’t like doing it when I ran to win this seat. But I will defend Scott Davis.

Scott and I have not seen eye to eye on everything over my 4+ years of service to this town. But I know where he comes from. He was a police officer, a chief of police, a council member, and a mayor. He also went to school and got a degrees in real estate and land development, a masters in public administration, and a doctorate in law and policy. That’s the resume of someone dedicated to public service. The same reason we all choose to serve. His only crime seems to be following the longest tenured town manager in the commonwealth. And honestly, no matter who took that role, it was going to be tough. In the meantime we’ve massively paid down our debt, put ourselves in the best financial footing we’ve been on since I’ve been here, and we’re professionalizing our operation.


Because we are a town of opportunity, a town seeking smart growth, a town with lots of pieces in the right places and poised to do even more good work. Because we are a town looking to increase revenue with a tax base, instead of with tax raises. Because we want to welcome people, and embrace our mission to provide efficient, effective, and equitable service, and encourage diverse growth in our charming community.” Because we aspire to our Vision : to be a vibrant place to live, work and recreate.” Because we hope that when we talk about affordable housing that we mean it. PUD might not be the answer. But I think we should have as many tools at our disposal as we need to achieve our goals.

This process is a long way off. A long way off. The Planning Commission just saw their first example of a PUD Ordinance from another locality. And there is plenty of opportunity for input. Even if it ever came to pass, the potential projects would still have to be put into a master plan. That plan would be debated by the planning commission with public input, then it would come before council for the same treatment. We can adopt as many tools as we want. This one allows us to decide on every project. The public who is opposing this PUD because they fear a potential project, will have their moment to step up to the mic. And if your thought is I don’t want to have to voice my concerns, or I don’t want to have to make these decisions? Well, that is why we are here. That is the role of the public. That is the role of public officials.


”Through comprehensive planning and appropriate land use decisions preserve the charm, beauty, and history of Farmville while accommodating growth, encouraging diverse and affordable housing, and promoting an efficient and safe transportation system.”

“Provide for the needs of a diverse community with quality, affordable housing for all.”

“Key land use strategies include coordination with Longwood University to improve the connection between University and Town; the promotion of infill and redevelopment rather than growing outward.”

Now Farmville Housing Association, I like their project too. It could be a good project. But all that is separate from this. All that is separate from this PUD ordinance and whether or not we believe this tool would be useful into the future as we plan for the future of Farmville.

My clarion call when I ran for office was Decency, Fortitude, Community and it remains the same. What struck my nerve was that the very thing I said I’d be a firewall against, I was starting to see in our community: Where people were taking a disagreement about an issue and turning it into personal attacks. And that I don’t have much time for.

BRIAN VINCENT is the mayor of the Town of Farmville. He can be reached at