Board’s decision on project was the right one

Published 10:41 am Friday, October 31, 2014

With respect to the people who voiced their opposition, we think the Southampton County Board of Supervisors made the correct decision to approve a developer’s plans to bring some new business to the area. On Monday, John David Williams of JDW Development of Virginia LLC got the needed planning and zoning amendments to build a service station/convenience store and fast food restaurant at the intersection of Meherrin and Ridley Roads.

Members of both the Planning Commission and BOS have pointed out that Williams, who is from Chesapeake, has done everything required of him and more to show how serious he is about his project. They, like other supporters, see his business as being good for the county. We agree that not only will it collectively benefit the economy in the short run, but it also could serve to let potential investors know that Southampton County can be business friendly.

As noted in past articles, the residents who have objected to the developer’s plans are worried about his choice of location, which is across the road from Southampton middle and high schools.

Their collective concern is that not only will traffic be increased, but also accidents involving loaded school buses could occur. Add to that, scenarios of students leaving the grounds during school hours for snacks and getting hit while crossing the road.

Their participation in the process by voicing those concerns led to a more thorough vetting of the project and played an important role in inspiring deeper debate. These types of discussions, especially those that include diverse opinions, should be encouraged, and are so by this newspaper.

We need to point out that School Board Chairwoman Dr. Deborah Goodwyn told the newspaper, “We’re always concerned about students’ safety and to ensure students’ safety.” To which she added, “We trust the Board to make decisions in the interests of all county residents including students.”

While we appreciate those people who are sincere in their concerns, we also think that those possibilities are more fearful imaginings than guaranteed tragedies for when Williams’ business becomes a reality.

Supervisor Ronnie West, for one, made an excellent point the other night: “We cannot legislate safety. How can you foresee things [accidents, crime, traffic] like that? It was well thought out and well planned.”