EXTRA: County Won’t Drop Seaside Protections


October 28, 2014

Northampton County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday (October 27) to reverse an earlier decision to remove the protections of the Chesapeake Bay Protection Act on the lands east of Route 13 and adjoining the Atlantic, otherwise known as the seaside.

At a March 11 public hearing, dozens of residents and former officials expressed overwhelming concern that removal of the protections of the Chesapeake Bay Act on the Seaside would have a profound adverse impact on the aquaculture industry, which is among the largest on the eastern seaboard. The CBPA requires increased setbacks for structures and septic systems, and calls for a vegetative buffer to protect the sensitive aquatic ecosystem from nutrient loading that could result from agriculture and wastewater runoff.


At the October 27 County work session, Economic Development Director Charles McSwain said that there had been considerable public opposition to the removal of the CBPA from the Seaside, and that leaving those protections in place would hopefully remove an obstacle to the passing of the new zoning ordinance.

However, removal of the CBPA from the Seaside is only one of the many issues that concern area residents. For instance, the Board of Supervisors is proposing to:

–Increase the allowable number of houses per acre to as much as 4,000% over the current limit;

— Reduce the width of waterfront lots in Oyster and Willis Wharf from the current 250 feet to 60 feet (allowing docks every 60 feet which could encroach upon the clam and oyster beds);

— Eliminate tax incentives for land kept in agriculture;

— Promote increased commercial development along Route 13, which has been deemed the primary recharge area for drinking water;

— Allow “by right” oil refineries using biomass in any agricultural district with no neighbor notification;

— Promote condos and multi-family structures on small waterfront lots (the Virginia Beach model);

— Eliminate town-edge districts, cutting towns out of decisions that would directly affect their future;

— And make many other changes to the current zoning ordinance, citing the need to be more “business friendly.”

Dropping the proposed removal of the CBPA came as no surprise to many residents actively opposing the zoning ordinance. In fact, the proposal to scrap the seaside protections might have been a red herring designed to focus the community on that one aspect of the proposed zoning change. A developer sometimes proposes an outrageously invasive and intrusive project which triggers a large public outcry. Then, when the developer announces a downscaled project, citing public opposition, the citizens feel much better about the pending assault, even though the downscaled project is what the developer wanted all along.

Civic leaders and former county officials will hold an informational forum 7 p.m. Thursday, November 6, at the Eastville Firehouse Bingo Hall. The forum will provide details on what the Board of Supervisors is proposing in rezoning entire county.



One Response to “EXTRA: County Won’t Drop Seaside Protections”

  1. David Kabler on November 1st, 2014 3:16 pm

    Thanks, WAVE, for your additional points about the county-wide rezoning now under consideration by our Board of Supervisors. While I could add to your list, I would rather point out how this rezoning is an affront to our democracy.

    The most obvious is the lack of public input that was sought in writing the ordinance in the first place. Our present land use policies evolved over 15 years of public workshops held in church halls and school cafeterias that recorded the hopes and desires of the residents of our community. The ordinance was finally adopted in 2009, at the height of our nation’s financial collapse and has not even been given a mite’s chance for demonstrating economic growth. What took 15 years to mature should not be so suddenly overturned.

    It is also proposed to exclude our Planning Commission, that consists of trained and certified citizen commissioners, from the special use permit public hearing process. That means that the most intense uses will only be scrutinized by the public before the Board of Supervisors, who already have much more on their plate than land use issues. Removing from the process the Planning Commission upsets the balance of powers for which our nation’s constitution provides.

    Come out to Eastville Fire Dept. Bingo Hall on Thursday Nov. 6 at 7pm to learn more about this and to have your questions answered.