GUEST EDITORIAL: Withdraw the Proposed Rezoning

Executive Director
Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore

November 10, 2014

Some 140 citizens gathered last Thursday at the Northampton Community Forum in Eastville to hear an explanation of the proposed countywide rezoning and some of the changes versus our current zoning. Volunteering their time and expertise, the panel included several trained, experienced Virginia State certified citizen Planning Commissioners, a scientist and Director at the University of Virginia’s Coastal Research Center, and a real estate broker of 40 years.

As co-sponsor of the event with Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore was encouraged by the large attendance. Clearly there is a thirst for additional information about the proposed zoning.  The lack of knowledge, confusion, and alarm residents expressed concerning the new zoning proposed is another indication that the county has not done an adequate job explaining the changes proposed.


As CBES has stated, Northampton County has provided no meaningful presentations on the details of the proposed zoning. Justifications for proposed changes were often not stated or are unsupported. A recent economic development study commissioned by the county cited several impediments to economic development. The zoning now in place was not considered one of them.

County officials have stated at public meetings that no studies have been done concerning the impacts of the proposed rezoning on such things as property values and the county’s successful economic engines: Agriculture, aquaculture, and tourism. No diverse public input was requested; county staff wrote the rezoning document without that input.

In addition, the backbone of county zoning is its Comprehensive Plan. The Comp Plan reflects the community’s needs and desires, while the Zoning Ordinance is the tool that implements the Plan. As part of this deeply flawed process, the county skipped revising the Comp Plan in favor of fast-tracking the zoning. This has resulted in a proposed zoning ordinance that is both inconsistent and incompatible with the county’s existing Comprehensive Plan.

All the above have been a grave departure from established county procedure in regard to rezoning. This should be unacceptable to our local elected officials who uphold the fundamentals of our democracy — government for and by the people.

Much more is at risk than the cost of re-advertising a proposed zoning revision. Tourism, agriculture, and aquaculture all face new risks under this new zoning proposal.  There is a real possibility we may derail the county’s current job providers, jeopardize our home values and the tax base, and suffer a real loss of public trust.

It is not too late for the county to get back on track. CBES, representing its nearly 1,000 members, urges the Northampton Board of Supervisors to withdraw the proposed rezoning. Let’s all go back to the table as a community and review the county zoning using the reasonable and inclusive process, which has worked for us in the past.

CLICK for CBES website.



8 Responses to “GUEST EDITORIAL: Withdraw the Proposed Rezoning”

  1. Tony Sacco on November 9th, 2014 11:39 pm

    140 people showed, what about the other 9,000 registered folks here — what do the think, are they not going to be heard, let’s put the proposal on the next ballot. Let the school children in the 11th and 12th grades choose; they want to work and live here just like everyone else. A small crowd well organized should not be allowed to dictate to Supervisors without the voice of the non-attendees; maybe they’re too old, too sick, or don’t like to go out at night. There are a lot of reasons the silent people don’t want to show their colors in public, but in the ballot box they make their silent voice heard. The same “no growth” people always show up at these rallies — they’ve been successfully doing it since I came here 25 years ago and they are the reason this county is the poorest, decaying, corrupt county in Virginia. Hail to the Board showing some guts to bring prosperity to all instead of the few.

  2. Katherine Horst on November 10th, 2014 9:00 pm

    This is not about stifling growth in this county. It’s about making smart, thought-out decisions. Perhaps you ought to watch the video above or attend a rally to really see what’s going on here. It’s about protecting the industries that do work here that create hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. For example, the commercial fishing and aquaculture industry support 987 jobs and $97.4 million in output. Because of the special use permits and the current zoning allows for commercial small business in residential areas. For that reason, 25% of the workforce is now self-employed business owners, as pointed out above. That could be jeopardized. Do you think building strip malls and biomass fuel plants is going to help the people of this country prosper? If you want a few more minimum wage jobs in exchange for losing all the successful industries that work here, good luck to you. There are many other small counties throughout the state that face similar issues. I can guarantee you this, the only people who would “prosper” from the current proposed changes are the brokers and developers at the expense of all the people in the county who work their ass off for what they have!

  3. Tony Sacco on November 11th, 2014 1:09 am

    Do I think growth is good for this county? The answer is yes.

    — Talk of “strip malls” is a tactic to scare people.

    — Farming is in decline; it employs 1% of the workforce and it’s 2% of GDP.

    — We have the lowest paid teachers in the nation; as a result, good teachers go somewhere else, and students continue to get low grades.

    — With no hospital for emergencies, seniors will die before their time.

    — Fishing, according to U.S. Government labor statistics, is the lowest paying job, whereas technology jobs are at the top of the scale.

    — A black Northampton student with an accounting degree works for Perdue cutting chicken necks for $10 an hour. Another black student with a degree in computer programming works for McDonald’s for $8 an hour. Are those the jobs you want for your children? Northampton is a dead-end county for good paying jobs.

    — I worked in the last census, and can tell you about the rotten conditions that the no-growth people force others in extreme poverty to endure, both white and black — and you worry about a bulldozer?

    — I could make a film showing that this “pristine” county looks like a village in India.

    Put it on the ballot for all the people to vote and let’s see what they say.

  4. Steve Downs on November 11th, 2014 5:02 pm

    I’m in your corner on this one Tony. The graduated and degreed children in this county have no choice but to leave their home town to find meaningful employment that is relevant to their choice of vocations. I don’t have any statistics to quote but as a business operator in Cape Charles for 10 years I can tell you that more than half of the kids I employed while they were attending high school and college have left the area — permanently! Not everyone on the Shore wants to be a waterman or a farmer.

  5. David Kabler on November 12th, 2014 7:48 am

    I raised my five children here and they received an excellent education from the public schools, graduated from the finest colleges and have fascinating careers around the country. One came back and is a great success here as well. There are many problems we face here but gutting our exemplary zoning ordinance, one created by the people and for the people, is not the answer. The BOS proposal of “anything goes anywhere” is a disaster waiting to happen, and the damage will not be easily overturned. What we lose will never be regained. In this lifeboat there is room for only so many, and our pollution is already showing up in our bayside creeks. Why are the upper parts of all of our bayside creeks closed to shellfish harvesting? Coliform bacteria contamination is the answer. Why do we think we can double or triple development along the waters’ edge when the Chesapeake Bay is near collapse? Zoning is one of the answers to pollution. A community that fails to plan, plans to fail.

  6. Tony Sacco on November 12th, 2014 2:26 pm

    Farming with its uncontrolled chemical runoff after rainfall is the reason for the pollution that is destroying the clam industry, the oyster industry, the fishing industry, and the tourist industry as well — not condos, industry, or growth of small family stores.

  7. Tom Zieger on November 14th, 2014 7:29 am

    Our farm is no tilled with no ditches for run-off into seaside. Also there are large 500 foot buffers. There is no run-off compared to residences I have visited with nice green kept lawns right down to the creek into the bay and nice green water surrounding the kept ground. Outlaw residential pesticides and chemicals on the Shore. All must do their part.

  8. Jim Welch on April 8th, 2015 6:25 pm

    If the citizens of Northampton County, through the judgement of their duly elected supervisors are considering allowing prisons in the county, they should consider the case of Crescent City California.

    The citizens in Crescent City were told the new Pelican Bay prison was to be a minimum security prison. They were told it would bring prosperity and construction jobs to the county. The contractor that built the prison imported most all of the construction people from outside the county. When it was completed they left the county with their money in hand. The locals got no jobs. Alone the way, and a complete surprise to the locals, a minimum security prison turned into a super maxim prison. To the additional horror of the citizens of Crescent City, the families of the inmates started to move into the county. They wanted to be close to their family members locked up inside. They were on welfare anyway so it didn’t matter where they lived. I lived 60 miles away at the time this was going on in Eureka and know what happened firsthand.

    Judging from the daily news it seems that the government lies all the time. They say what they want to get elected, and then they mismanage our tax money and complain they need more. They do what they want, when they want, never successfully it seems. This prison in California is a perfect example of what the Northampton County supervisors can easily bring to the citizens of the Shore if left in office and not stopped from implementing their mad agenda. The supervisors, excepting one, lack worldly or practical experience it seems judging by their actions and the high cost of county operations.

    There are much better ways to bring jobs to the Shore, jobs that are productive and positive. Prisons are bad energy. A sign of a sick society. Look outside the box of old out dated thinking patterns and resolve these county issues in positive intelligent fashion.

    Please read this article if you want more details: A Brief History of Pelican Bay