The Cutchins Farm

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Seven years ago, a proposal was put on the table in Southampton County to develop a parcel of land known as the Cutchins Farm. It sits at the intersection of Clay Street and Delaware Road adjacent to where Riverdale Elementary School sits today. The plan called for a major revision to the county’s comprehensive plan, and included several hundred units of high-density housing. Many in the county spoke out against the proposal, citing a relatively modest increase in tax revenue to the county in exchange for a significant strain on public services. The proposal, in our opinion, was rightly denied.

The property owner has again come to the county with ideas for developing the parcel, this time taking a different approach. Current plans being considered include opportunities for light industrial space along with office buildings in a campus style setting. Discussions have included plans for strict architectural guidelines with an emphasis on creating well-manicured landscaping buffers around the development. The plans are currently in the design phase, and public hearings for a rezoning request have yet to be scheduled.

Change does not come easily in Southampton County. Nearly every discussion involving rezoning and redevelopment in recent memory has been met with substantial opposition. But this property is one of only a handful available in the county ideal suited for redevelopment. An added bonus is that the county does not need to spend a nickel in order to acquire the property. The property sits adjacent to a rail line and has easy access to necessary utilities, and its proximity to the Rt. 58 bypass is ideal. It is the perfect location for a low-impact development that can add significantly to the county’s tax base without putting additional strain on public services.

Debate regarding the development of the property is certainly warranted, and public input should be encouraged. But it is hard for us to imagine many arguments for opposing the development of this land. We encourage all parties to come to the table in good faith, and engage in a real discussion about what is best for the economic future of Southampton County.