Following a closed session Tuesday night with members of the Smithfield Town Council, Mayor Andy Moore and Town Attorney Bob Spence, officials unanimously agreed to appeal a ruling by a Superior Court judge overturning a 2017 decision to reject a controversial RV park on Venture Drive near the Outlet center.
In October 2017, the Smithfield Town Council voted 4-to-2 to reject a request by developer Theron Lee McLamb of Smithfield to operate a 148 space recreational vehicle park plus 48 cabin rents on 33.3 acres of land he owns. The council sided with nearby property owners, including many from the adjacent Pine Acres Subdivision, who expressed concerns about noise, light pollution and devalued property.
McLamb’s attorney, Chip Hewett of Selma filed a 56-page lawsuit in December 2017 in Johnston County Superior Court seeking to overturn the decision. On May 31st, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Foster of Pitt County ruled in favor of McLamb saying the town council acted “outside the scope of its legal authority in their stated reason for denial” and allowed testimony from of neighboring property owners who were not expert witnesses and could only speculate on property values.
In a Press Release to WTSB News on Wednesday, Town Manager Michael Scott wrote, “It is the Town of Smithfield’s assertion that our citizens are the best experts when discussing what is best for Smithfield and their individual properties. It is in this spirit that the Town Council voted to continue supporting our citizens who would be negatively impacted by the placement of an RV park at this location and appeal Judge Foster’s ruling to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.”
“While Smithfield applauds economic growth and residential growth and regularly partners with developers to bring positive growth to our local economy, the Town Council does not believe that an RV park at this location is in the best interest of the Town, its future plans or its citizens considering that additional traffic patterns and storm water runoff may negatively impact this area, as well as negatively impact property values.”
Tony Nixon, Chairman of the East Smithfield Development Organization said last week the group was disappointed with the judge’s decision. ” We stand by our position that this particular business is wrong to be placed directly adjacent to an established historical neighborhood such as Pine Acres or any other neighborhood within the city limits of Smithfield as it will adversely affect property values and quality of life.”