Supervisor explains reason for Benn’s Grant vote

Published 7:52 am Friday, July 30, 2010

To the Editor:

I would like to take a few words to express my position on Isle of Wight County’s Economic Development Incentive Plan and the proffer amendments requested by the developers of Benn’s Grant, both of which I voted against two weeks ago.

While I certainly support incentives to attract new business and industry to Isle of Wight, I could not vote for a policy that was custom-made for large, mixed-use developments, Benn’s Grant in particular.

If our voluntary proffers are too high, by all means, let us take a look at them and adjust them to be competitive with other localities. If our review process is too cumbersome, let’s look at that too.

I’m more than willing to fix whatever needs fixing. But let’s work together to come up with a fair plan that applies across the board and across the county.

Neither am I against the Benn’s Grant project, which was approved before I took a seat on the Board of Supervisors. But I did my homework, and I could not find one single example in which another locality offered incentives for multi-family housing, the kind of development that puts the biggest burden on taxpayers.

I am not convinced that building 240 apartment units will help attract the kind of commercial development that can compensate for the loss of revenue from International Paper and other related enterprises. Finally, I appreciate our local newspapers and their efforts to keep Isle of Wight citizens informed of what’s happening in our county. I don’t agree with everything the papers print, but I think a suggestion that any newspaper is responsible for the animosity that currently characterizes the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors is ludicrous.

Being on the Board of Supervisors is difficult enough without the addition of hostility, sarcasm and condescension. Something needs to change and I hope that we can work together to fix it.

JoAnn Hall

Isle of Wight Board of Supervisor