Defending IOW board’s choices on Benn’s Grant

Published 12:09 pm Saturday, July 31, 2010

To the Editor:

Isle of Wight County Supervisor Al Casteen has improperly chosen this forum (“IOW board offering too many breaks to Benn’s Grant developers,” July 21) to unjustly criticize three of his employees.

Since they can’t respond, I will.

Beverly Walkup is clearly the most capable director of planning and zoning in the region. Administrator Doug Caskey has a regional respect that exceeds that of any active city manager or county administrator and County Attorney Paul Burton (former 30-year city attorney for Hampton) has done more local government problem solving than all of our staff combined.

Casteen was fully informed of the very minor changes to the proffer policy and Benn’s Grant proffer in the same manner as the rest of us.

The fact of the matter is that in the current economic climate without some incentives the Benn’s Grant proffers as they existed were ghost dollars. The county would not receive any water and sewer infrastructure for the entire area of Benn’s Grant, and the failing Benn’s Grant intersection would not be reworked to the benefit of all.

These improvements will lead to commercial and retail development in that part of the northern development service, which is in complete compliance with the Isle of Wight County comprehensive plan that concentrates growth in the Carrollton/Windsor and Carrsville and leaves the rest of the county rural. State law requires growth districts in order to preserve rural lands.

Casteen offers no ideas for partnering with the business community to grow sales tax and commercial property tax dollars to offset the $6 million revenue loss of International Paper. He would stifle growth and cut off water to the intermodal facilities, and at the same time, as he votes against diversifying our tax base, he readily votes for tax increases, rails against reducing county costs and says he will worry about the full impact of International Paper next year.

Well next year is too late. We had to start planning and working on that loss the minute the announcement came out. Some of us did.

The previously rezoned apartments are a $30 million investment that gives us a new intersection, water and sewage infrastructure and an excellent chance to close the $6 million budget gap over the next few years.

This board’s actions mean jobs and additional retail and commercial tax revenues through partnering with the business community.

The City of Chesapeake just reduced its proffer amount by 25 percent across the board. Gov. Bob McDonnell is throwing public money as an incentive for the Route 460 limited-access highway.

The City of Williamsburg just revised proffers to expedite a development, and did so without any public hearing since the revisions do not affect density or use. Isle of Wight County held a public hearing even though it was not required since density or use was not involved.

Stan D. Clark

Isle of Wight Supervisor

Carrollton District