UPDATE: Developer behind controversial Smithfield development withdraws application, future plans unclear
Update - Sept. 7 10:30 a.m.: Smithfield Mayor Steve Bowman said the developer behind the controversial Grange at 10Main housing development withdrew the rezoning application for the project without explanation.
The surprise move comes after the town's council delayed the application's approval for the second time, directing it back to the town planning commission for further analysis of the project's traffic impacts.
The Grange was set to include nearly 300 homes, a boutique hotel and more right at the foot of Smithfield's historic Main Street area.
Residents and members of the town council have worried for months about how many cars would crowd the tight streets of Smithfield's historic district.
Bowman said he hasn't spoken with the developer, Joseph Luter IV, about why the application was withdrawn or what the plan is going forward. He said the town's staff also hasn't heard from the developer beyond the withdrawl request.
But Bowman said his understanding is that the application was withdrawn "without prejudice," meaning it could come back in a modified form without starting from square one.
ORIGINAL - Sept. 6, 12:39 p.m.: For the second time in as many months, Smithfield’s Town Council has pushed off a rezoning request for a major development at the foot of the town’s historic Main Street downtown area.
The project, called The Grange at 10Main, would include nearly 300 homes and luxury apartments. Plans also call for a farmer’s market, restaurants and boutique hotel on 57 acres at the south end of town.
The big issue council members said they had with the proposed project Tuesday is potential for increased traffic - potentially thousands more car trips per day on the town’s roads, including the narrow two-lane Main Street.
The council voted Tuesday to send the matter back to the town’s planning commission for further discussions with the developer. Joseph Luter IV, the son of former Smithfield Foods Chairman Joseph Luter III, is behind the development.
The family bought and tore down an 18th-century farmhouse and the former Little’s Supermarket to make room for the proposed development.
The project has drawn controversy not just for the scale of the project and its proximity to Smithfield’s historic downtown, but also for requests from the developers for the town to help pay for parts of the project.
The Grange is part of more than a dozen major development projects that could bring thousands of new housing units online in and around Smithfield over the next couple of years.