Negotiating commercial development is a blood sport. Big businesses like Wal-Mart and big Richmond developers like Blackwood Development inevitably try to put county residents on the hook for as much of the cost of development as possible, while local boards inevitably try to place as much of those costs on developers as they can.
However, local Boards of Supervisors are often apt to accept more fiscal responsibility than is reasonable in order to trumpet their success at “bringing in new jobs”. Our Caroline Board of Supervisors, while pursuing a Wal-Mart in Caroline County is not willing to put undue costs and expenses on Caroline Residents and is actively negotiating a fair deal.
The delay in approval is simply a delay while our Board and Wal-Mart hammer out who pays for what with regard to the expansion of transportation infrastructure in support of the proposed Ladysmith Crossing off I95 in Ladysmith.
Currently in question is the ratio of responsibility for widening the roads and moving water/sewage infrastructure to accommodate the incoming businesses. More often than not, counties settle for much less than they deserve and residents end up with a beautiful new shopping center that they end up paying for for the next thirty years. Our Board of Supervisors is working hard to ensure that doesn’t happen to Caroline.
A significant aspect of this Wal-Mart deal was the assumption that our State Government would be contributing funds, as they are apt to do to encourage development. However, the State never promised us funds for the project and we are still going through the process of having State Funds approved. While we have as a county, in the past, jumped head first into development projects with nothing but assumptions to balance our budget, our current board is endeavoring to ensure that the expansion of Ladysmith Road, including new lanes and traffic lights, don’t fall entirely on the shoulders of Caroline Residents.
So while after last night’s meeting the headlines read “Caroline Defers Action on Ladysmith Wal-Mart“, members of all parties are still enthusiastically moving forward to a final and equitable deal.