LETTER: What Is Happening in Northampton County?

June 8, 2015


About a decade ago, family members relocated from our rural area in upstate New York to Northampton County, which they call “the lower Eastern Shore.”   Retirement age, they were seeking a  more serene way of life, and subsequently invested nearly $750,000 in property there, convinced that the rural and scenic county would meet and exceed their every need.   My husband and I, also creeping up on the age where we might want to enjoy living in a milder climate, first visited their new home in 2006.  A weekend stay then cocked our heads a bit, and we put a checkmark in the box next to “potential” prospects on our small but growing list.

Our next stay, the following summer, lasted nearly a week.  During that time we dug a little deeper into what the county and incorporated towns offered, with a keen eye on whether or not the “lower Shore” would remain a contender.  Within several years, our visits expanded to include more lengthy stays, burning up our vacation time between Northampton County and the Outer Banks, another possible retirement site.

The area where we live has seen its share of environmental incursions, from waste incinerators, coal burning plants, hard rock mines, oil pipelines, and construction and demolition landfills proposed for residential areas.  Therefore, when looking for property that would be protected from these body blows, we  looked very carefully at zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans in prospective retirement candidates, as those blueprints reflect the vision that the majority of residents hold for the future of their local and regional setting.


The 2009 Comprehensive Plan and its supporting ordinance, both written with the input from residents through surveys, workshops, town hall meetings, and focus groups, was our jump-off point to help us really understand how solid the footing was on what we perceived to be a very stable and protective community.   The roadmap for economic growth in those documents envisioned public, private, and governmental support  for ”aquaculture, education, agriculture, tourism, nature-based recreational offerings, small business growth, and the arts.”  Perfect.  Just what we wanted.

So by 2013 we started actively looking for real estate in Northampton County.  We knew what we wanted: open space, low density, rural, and protected.    But after learning in 2014 from our relatives that the Northampton County Board of Supervisors was planning to rezone the entire county into a more crowded, industrial, commercial, and less-protected community, we put our potential investment plans in Northampton County on hold, and will not rekindle our consideration until this issue is well settled.

Some of the changes that we see that stop us dead in our tracks are the fact that waste incineration (now called waste management and resource recovery —  I guess in an attempt to mask the real plans) and large-scale industrial chicken farms are being welcomed into the county.

Protections for drinking water (the quality of which we have heard might be less than perfect in areas  close to the Atlantic Ocean and the mighty Chesapeake Bay) are being eliminated, with no restrictions on how much land can be paved over on each parcel.   And as for how taxpayer resources are currently being handled by county government, given a small population of just over 12,000, that also is mind blowing.

We are hoping that people in the county take the time and effort to protect their investments, both current and prospective, as I am sure that we are not the only ones who will look elsewhere if the current “leaders” get their way.

New York State



5 Responses to “LETTER: What Is Happening in Northampton County?”

  1. Steve Downs on June 8th, 2015 10:11 am

    Mr. and Mrs. Loughlin: Do yourselves a BIG favor and head further south for your retirement home. The powers that be in both Northampton County and Cape Charles haven’t got a clue as to how to make the area a more welcoming and satisfying place in which to live. You can always come to visit, which would make you a TOURIST and that is all they are concerned about.

  2. Mable Harrison on June 12th, 2015 4:22 pm

    Sarah and Tim, there are some people in our county that keep pushing for rezoning so they can do what they want. These people are only interested in making their own pockets deeper. I pray that the Northampton County Board of Supervisors see what is good for EVERYONE in the county, not just the people who already have a lot of money.

  3. Rebecca Doughty Geary on June 15th, 2015 11:16 am

    I’m with you. My ancestry on the shore goes back to land grants from England. I am invested in Northampton County. We own and live on a modest property on the seaside which we based our retirement on. We also own a multi-generational cottage on the bay in a tiny local community.

    We will stay another five to ten years, and hopefully be able to sell our property, baring Commercial Chicken houses going up across the road, so we can move further south. I guess if we can’t sell, we will rent it out. I just can’t live near a commercial smelly, noisy farm.

    The first thing I’ll check is the zoning laws and the intention of the Board of Supervisors before I ever purchase again.

    I guess no place is safe, but I’ve learned a valuable lesson. I will do all that I can to protect my next purchase regarding current and potential zoning.

  4. Melvin W. Williams, Jr CWO, USCG (Ret) on June 25th, 2015 7:43 pm

    And what have any of you investors and planers done for the black citizens there? I mean so that they may earn good wages, hold on to their property, be represented in the local government and the decision making process?

  5. Hamptom Miller on June 26th, 2015 11:42 am

    Mr. Williams, when did zoning become a race issue?