Selective concern

Published 11:05 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Recently, those in Southampton County who are opposed to anything and everything have attempted to appeal to our collective sense of concern for the safety of the county’s children as a valid reason for blocking any land development projects. Case in point, last year at this time county residents urged the Board of Supervisors not to rezone a parcel of land at the intersection of Route 35 and Ridley Road, near to the Route 35 entrance to the Southampton Middle and High schools, for the potential development of a convenience store/restaurant complex. Too dangerous for the kids, opponents said.

Fast forward to today, and a different group of residents is now voicing concern over the potential rezoning and subsequent development of a parcel of land adjacent to Riverdale Elementary School on Camp Parkway near the Franklin city limits. Many, some of whom are running for the county’s board of supervisors in next week’s election, are citing student safety as a primary reason for blocking the development. They claim the fact that the development of that property for the partial purpose of housing a warehousing facility may drive the traffic count on that road, making it unsafe and too dangerous to be located near a school.

Their opposition on these grounds is misinformed and disingenuous at best.

Here are the facts. The Camp Parkway property, known as the Cutchins Farm, sits on a divided four-lane highway with a 55 miles-per-hour speed limit. When, and if, the development reaches its fully proposed capacity in a couple of decades, the traffic count on Camp Parkway may reach as high as 10,000 vehicles per day. However, the county currently has three schools — Southampton Middle School, Southampton High School and Capron Elementary School — that are located on a four-lane stretch of divided highway with a 60 miles-per-hour speed limit that has a current traffic count of 14,000 vehicles per day. Yet not a peep has been heard from those who claim student safety as a valid reason for opposing the Camp Parkway development regarding the safety of those students whose schools are located on Southampton Parkway, the county’s busiest road.

And we don’t expect to hear a peep any time soon, either.