Letter to the editor: Industry may not be best use for Tri-West site

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

To the editor:

Well, the debate about housing on Farmington Road is just another reason that the spot zoning of the Tri-West Business Center (Farmington Road/US 158) was the wrong decision.

The very thing being debated (affordable housing) is exactly what the Tri-West site could have been (and still has an outside chance of being used for if the economics of spec buildings around the state is fully and honestly considered, i.e., a lot of them are sitting empty with “Available” signs hung on the building – a drive along I-40, I-85, and US-29 will confirm that).

Affordable housing, light commercial amenities, etc. can still be the best use of the Tri-West site.

So why is Terry Bralley suddenly now concerned about housing? He certainly did not entertain the notion when he advocated for the spot rezoning (Zoning Map Amendment 2021-02 on June 7, 2021, changing Residential 20 Quality Design Overlay and Highway Business Quality Design Overlay to General Industrial Quality Design Overlay) against the wishes of the local citizenry and the abundantly clear citizen wishes when the 2019 Comprehensive Plan was being developed (industry did not ever rank as a citizen desire).

So, the same issues brought forward at the spot zoning public hearings still apply, such as conflicts with heavy truck traffic, for this proposal. Look at a map. The Twi-West complex will be even more inserted into a residential area with the new housing proposal (the quarry notwithstanding, which will one day be a wonderful conservation zone with migratory bird flyway aspects when it runs out).

This very fact concerning housing and light commercial as the best use was brought forward in public hearings on the Tri-West spot zoning: viz., why would you plat a multi-million-dollar development and then turn around less than two years later and “force” an industrial re-zoning practically next door in an otherwise residential/agricultural zoned area (reminder, the egregious use of “opportunity corridor” for industrial also aptly applies to residential corridors)?

The answer, of course, is inconsistent zoning and, perhaps, some undue developer influence. A final tidbit: the county-wide water study shows that the Tri-West site, along with the rest of the vounty, has a water supply problem, ergo the water plant and distribution lines upcoming projects.

So, even approving the Tri-West site before adequate supply lines are installed (one is being programmed for Farmington Road) was putting the cart in front of the horse. The Planning Board statement about utilities being available was patently wrong – they will have to be developed (water and sewer).

So, to parrot this discussion concerning the Farmington Road housing project, what was the rush? Other interests, of course.

It is ironic, given the related price point for the development, that one of the planning board members actually stated during the public hearings regarding the now Tri-West tract that we didn’t need any more $300,000 houses in the county (and that when the average price point in the US on that day was $294,000).

Again, the Tri-West site should have better uses in accordance with the wishes of the Citizenry. If corrected such use would comport with the new discussion.

William Vaughan