LETTER: Don’t Turn County into a Dumpsite

June 22, 2015

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The letter below was sent June 18 to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors from Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns, who has requested it be published in the Wave.) 

TO NORTHAMPTON COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS

As a resident of Northampton County since 1998, I respectfully join those who object to a rezoning ordinance that would allow commercial chicken facilities into the county. I understand Tyson and Perdue have proposed building 50 chicken houses in Northampton County as soon as possible. I urge you to reject their proposals. The chicken industry is a major source of environmental degradation on the Eastern Shore. Drive through Accomack County and you can smell the oppressive odor of the chicken industry. Drive through Accomack County and you see the sick and suffering chickens going up and down Route 13 and on the back roads. Is that what we want in Northampton County? I stand with those who say No.

Twenty years ago the Washington Post reported that the Delmarva Peninsula produced a million tons of chicken manure a year, enough to fill a football stadium. Now it is even worse. Do we want to turn Northampton County into a dumpsite for manure piles, rodents, flies, air pollution, and other unwholesome consequences for county residents to cope with? If we care about the people who live here, and the land we occupy, the answer is No.

Regarding the manure storage facilities and poultry litter incinerators, a report by Food & Water Watch, Poultry Litter Incineration: An Unsustainable Solution, says the incinerators produce toxic air emissions and will likely be subsidized by taxpayers. Toxic air emissions cited in the report include carbon monoxide, CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, volatile organic compounds, dioxin, particulate matter and the arsenic compound nitarsone. Do we want all this fecal pollution and pharmaceutical residue in a county whose residents, including children, already suffer from high levels of chronic respiratory infection? [Read more…]

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LETTER
Two County Supervisors May Have Conflict of Interest

June 15, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

The June 9 meeting of the Northampton County Board of  Supervisors was rather lively.  As this would be the last time that residents could address the BOS before staff sends the rezoning scheme out for public comment, many speakers took to the podium to relay their opposition to the widespread plan to industrialize our farmland, among other changes. Those commenting included three former planning commissioners, a marine scientist, two heads of local civic organizations, and other landowners who feared their investments in this county were being jeopardized.

Nearly all of the speakers questioned the Board’s motives for changing the land use rules which currently protect property rights and our limited natural resources (the aquifer and clean coastal waters), all without our consent.  Near the end of the citizen comment period, I addressed the Board with what I thought might be in part driving the changes, and I appreciate this opportunity to more fully flesh out my presentation.

Shortly after buying our building next to the Post Office in Exmore in 2008, during a meeting of a local citizens group we became aware of a project called the Exmore Energy Project.  The plan was announced at that meeting by a representative of the Bay Coast Railroad.  The proposal was called a “Bio Diesel plant” and would manufacture a diesel additive by refining waste oil from the Norfolk Oil Transport Company.  The waste product would be railed to the site (next to our shop and in the middle of town), mixed with methanol and other additives, heated, filtered, and stored.

As I had experience with these oil refineries while working for county government in our rural upstate New York county, I quickly concluded that the project was not a good fit for the middle of a business district.  Working with other citizens in the town and Virginia  DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality], we encouraged Bay Coast and the Norfolk concern to abandon their plans. [Read more…]

LETTER: Respect Animals by Not Eating Them

DEAR EDITOR,

Thank you for publishing Wayne Creed’s thoughtful and informative article, including the shout out for International Respect for Chickens Day May 4 and every day. For many people who want to be vegan, including me 30 years ago, cheese is the biggest hurdle. One day I sat in my car in front of my favorite Italian restaurant in College Park, Maryland, crying because I could no longer have pizza with extra (or any!) cheese. I had a good cry in the driver’s seat. Then I dried my eyes, went inside, ordered rigatoni with mushrooms, and never looked back.

I wish that in childhood I had made the connection between eating and animals, but I didn’t. Growing up in a Pennsylvania town where schools were (and still are) closed on the first day of hunting season, where ring-necked pheasants are pen-raised to be released into the woods to be wounded and shot for pleasure, I hated those things, yet I didn’t connect animals and dinner. I don’t hold myself responsible for what I failed to realize growing up, although I regret it, but once my eyes were open, I was responsible.

To this day I consider my decision to respect animals by not eating them to be the single best decision I ever made. For me, being vegan is the opposite of renunciation. It is a totally positive, deeply satisfying diet and dietary decision that has influenced my attitude and behavior in other areas including household and personal care products and in trying to act consciously instead of just conveniently.

If I have any advice for people who want their food to be animal-free, it is to stay firm in your commitment, be happy about it, eat well, and don’t apologize. I invite everyone getting started to sign up for the daily recipes and gorgeous photos featured on One Green Planet. Remember the animals whose lives you are no longer ruining just for a meal. For me, this is the most powerful incentive.

KAREN DAVIS, Ph.D.
President, United Poultry Concerns
Machipongo

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LETTER
Chamber of Commerce Applauds School Resolution

June 15, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber of Commerce has served businesses on the Eastern Shore for 62 years.  Representing more than 450 businesses, our mission is to “serve, promote and connect businesses and communities of the Eastern Shore of Virginia.”

The Board of Directors would like to commend the Northampton County Board of Supervisors for the Resolution they adopted at their meeting on May 12, 2015.  We wholeheartedly agree that education should be viewed as the cornerstone for the county’s economic future. We encourage the Board of Supervisors to remain focused on education and to keep all the educational declarations listed below in the forefront of their decision making.

RESOLUTION DECLARING EDUCATION AS THE CORNERSTONE FOR NORTHAMPTON COUNTY’S ECONOMIC FUTURE

WHEREAS, it is well established and recognized that the future of our local, regional and even global society hinges on an engaged, informed, and educated youth; and

WHEREAS, it is also recognized that a well-educated and inspired student body is the engine that drives, and will continue to drive our local and regional economy; and

WHEREAS, Northampton County is fortunate to enjoy world-class teachers who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that their students are equipped and prepared to become productive and beneficial members of society in business, academic and leadership roles; and [Read more…]

LETTER: What Is Happening in Northampton County?

June 8, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

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. [Read more…]

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LETTER
3-Minute Public Hearing for $8 Million Town Budget

June 8, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

On June 4 there was a Public Hearing in Cape Charles Town Hall to “Receive Public Comment on the FY 2015-2016 Proposed Budget and Utility Rates.” I was the only party having comments and questions. I was made aware, that my remarks were limited to three minutes.

After my greeting remarks, some pleasantries, and some thank you’s for having  this meeting, I was left with about 2 minutes and 30 seconds for my comments and questions. This was by far not enough time to express the many questions and concerns  I had and still have about many inconsistencies and questionable entries made in the proposed budget. However, after three minutes, BIG BEN was ringing at the councilwoman’s desk, reminding me in no uncertain terms to end my  remarks. This  leaves me with only one option, to ask these questions openly, through local publications.

It is unfortunate that we still – 11 months after closing the books for FY 2013-2014 – do not have audited financial statements. This forced me to compare the proposed 2015-2016 budget with the budget for the previous fiscal year. Please keep also in mind that a good portion of our residents are on fixed income and cannot afford expense increases that exceed inflation. [Read more…]

LETTER
Chief Pruitt Urges Citizens to ‘Thank a Policeman’

May 18, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

Today in the United States, approximately 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for the safety  and protection of others. With great success, they serve with valor and distinction.

Federal statistics show that violent crime and property crime rates in the United States are at historic lows, thanks to the dedicated service of the men and women in law enforcement. The national Law Enforcement Memorial is ever-changing as new names are added to the memorial every year due to the selfless sacrifice of the men and women that serve our communities.

In 2014, 127 police officers were killed in the line of duty, leaving 159 children without a parent — and as of today 44 officers have fallen in 2015. These numbers are tragic on their own, not to mention the void that will never be filled.

In what other occupation is one expected to make correct, split-second, serious, and possibly life-and-death decisions while navigating complicated laws and procedures, in addition to having to lay his or her life on the line for total strangers?

The men and women of law enforcement are content in doing a difficult job, one most people in the world could not or would not do, and they do it well. It truly takes an extraordinary person to be a police officer. [Read more…]

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LETTER: Chicken Houses Will Lower Property Values

April 27, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: Professor Art Schwarzschild submitted the following letter April 20 to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, asking that it be made public record.

Dear Members of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, Planning  Commission, and County Staff,

I would like to start this letter with an apology for the tone of my  last letter which questioned the motivations behind what I saw as the  mysterious insertion of the new zoning use, “Event Venue,” into the  revised draft zoning proposal.  That being said, I believe it is important for you to understand that  the back room procedure being used to write and repeatedly tweak the  proposed zoning changes with little to no public involvement or explanation has led many Northampton County residents to question the  motivations behind the proposed changes.

Once again, I would remind you of the comparison between the procedure used to create our current zoning code and this ongoing and confusing  process.  During the previous process the public was invited and  encouraged to attend zoning work sessions in order to help craft a new  comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance.  These public work sessions  were run by the County Planning Director and Planning Staff with  additional support from paid consultants.

Members of the PC and BOS were  in attendance at each of these meetings to witness public input.  Scientific data, Economic Reports and Case Studies were presented and used as guides to ask citizens what they wanted to see in Northampton  County and to help provide a realistic road map for us to achieve these  outcomes.

In stark contrast, I have seen no data, surveys, or case studies used to support the multitude of zoning changes being  proposed.   What’s even worse, these changes have often been presented  in a confusing and misleading manner. [Read more…]

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