Town Again Postpones Decision on County Sewage Rate

Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek has yet to convince Town Council to subsidize out-of-town sewage collection. (Wave photo)

Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek has yet to convince Town Council to subsidize out-of-town sewage collection. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

August 25, 2014

Despite Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek’s best efforts, Cape Charles Town Council once again has sidestepped any decision on how much to charge to accept sewage from out-of-town commercial properties on and near Route 13. Panek recommended providing the county with “updated cost estimates” to process sewage, but Town Council balked at their August 21 meeting, voting instead to hold a work session to further consider the matter.

The “update” would be to an earlier cost estimate that Panek provided the County Public Service Authority without authorization from Town Council. That was when Panek was also chairman of the PSA, a position he lost following complaints of conflict of interest. But he remains the town’s representative to the PSA.

Almost a year has passed since Town Council last wrestled with the question of how much to charge for sewage coming from the highway. Since then, one strong opponent of subsidizing out-of-town businesses – Mike Sullivan — has left the council. That leaves Frank Wendell as adamantly opposed, with Joan Natali and Chris Bannon on Panek’s side. Mayor George Proto and Councilman Steve Bennett also expressed reservations at last Thursday’s meeting, which prevented Panek from getting his wish.

Newly elected Councilman Sambo Brown said he believed the county simply wanted to know whether the town was willing to accept sewage, to which Panek responded “That’s right.” Panek did not explain to the new councilman that Town Council had already twice indicated a willingness to accept county sewage, first informally at a June 24, 2010, work session, and later, at Panek’s insistence, on August 9, 2012, with a formal motion. All council members approved that motion with the exception of Wendell. [Read more...]


Zoning Showdown: Baldwin vs Schwarzchild & Ordeman


August 12, 2014

Tonight (Tuesday) three speakers are scheduled to address the Northampton County Board of Supervisors on proposed zoning changes — specifically the proposed removal of the Waterfront Village zones of Oyster and Willis Wharf.

Eyre Baldwin, who owns property in Oyster, addressed the Planning Commission last week, and is expected to make the same points tonight. Baldwin has restored an old Oyster structure, moved it to the waterfront, and now wants to use it as a “waterfront Mom and Pop general store where locals, boaters, and traveling tourists can stop in to purchase gasoline, ice, drinks, and snacks for their boat ride out on the seaside.” He also wants to rent out kayaks, open a raw bar, and use the upstairs as a vacation rental. His complaint is that under the current zoning ordinance none of those things can be done “by right.”

“We are urging the Planning Commission to help ease the current restrictions that are preventing us from moving forward with a potentially great waterfront village business,” Baldwin said August 5.

Baldwin also again raised the concept of a regional water and wastewater system at the Webster property he owns in Cheriton. He called attention to the study by the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission and quoted it as stating that water quality in Cape Charles is “getting worse.” (CLICK for the Wave’s report.) “The wells in Cheriton at the Webster site are not affected by the water issues that plague Cape Charles. Studies have shown that the Webster site is sitting on top of the deepest part of the aquifer that runs under this county,” he said. [Read more...]

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County Planning Commissioner Coker Quits in Disgust


August 7, 2014

Stating that “I can no longer serve in good conscience given the flawed processes we are working under,” Northampton County Planning Commission Vice-Chair Martina Coker submitted her resignation August 5 effective immediately. Coker was the District 1 representative, which includes the Cape Charles area.

“I continue to be dismayed at the manner in which the Zoning Ordinance was developed and proposed, without any public input or analysis of data which could support proposed changes,” she wrote, adding that there could be a “significant detrimental effect on residential property values” as a result.

Coker did not attend the August 5 Planning Commission meeting, but submitted her statement to be read at the meeting. Economic Development Director Charles McSwain reportedly suggested that Coker’s statement be included in the record but not read out loud. But after it was pointed out  that Coker had so requested, the letter was read.

Coker’s frustration comes from the County Board of Supervisors’ refusal to give the Planning Commission more than 100 days to review what amounts to a whole new zoning code for the county. She wrote: “The proposed ordinance strips property owners of their rights to maintain their property value by eliminating Special Use Process for virtually all uses, many of which could decimate property values.” [Read more...]


Who Still Uses a Privy? Commission Wants to Know

August 4, 2014

The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) is asking Eastern Shore residents to provide information regarding the location of properties that lack indoor plumbing in Accomack and Northampton Counties. Properties that lack indoor plumbing do not have the capability to dispose of sewage waste inside the residence. These properties typically utilize an outdoor pit privy or outhouse, although some properties fail to have outdoor facilities as well.

While pit privies may be permitted by the Virginia Health Department if constructed and maintained properly, many do not meet the regulated standards and pose a significant public health risk and have extremely adverse impacts on the quality of adjacent water bodies and the environment. [Read more...]

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Wounded Warriors Treated to Delights of Eastern Shore

American Legion Post 56

August 4, 2014

Post 56 recently hosted a Wounded Warrior weekend barrier island excursion with the assistance of an organization called the Freedom Hunters. The event started with a Saturday breakfast with 23 wounded warriors, their family members, and numerous members of Post 56. The Warriors were led to the Miss Jennifer at Cherrystone Campground where they enjoyed a day of fun, fellowship, and fishing under the expert guidance of Capt. Ray Cardone.

The Warriors returned to Post 56 and were treated to a wonderful meal of ham, chicken, vegetables, and desserts prepared by Post 56 Chaplain Wilson Leggett and his wife, Diane. The Warriors then proceeded to the Rittenhouse Motor Lodge where Bob Rittenhouse provided free rooms to several members of this organization.

On Sunday the Warriors met again with Post 56 members for breakfast and were directed to the Oyster Boat Ramp where they boarded boats and toured the barrier islands and beaches. The group was led by Capt. Wilson Leggett and Capt. Chuck Williams, Bobby Cheney, Bernie Davis, Jim White, Hank Jones, Post 56 Adjutant Bob Roche, and Lester Clark.

This was a weekend filled with both poignant and triumphant moments and created a friendship and bond between the Warriors and Post 56 that will never be broken. At the end of the weekend event and as a token of their appreciation, the Freedom Hunters presented Post 56 an encased American flag that was a flown over a base in Afghanistan.

Weekend participants in front of American Legion lodge.

Weekend participants in front of American Legion Post 56.


Fund Established for Children of Tornado Victims

Lord Balatbat and Lolibeth Ortega shown with their three children: Lheandrew, 13, Lharizia Ann, 12, and Lheana Ann, 7

Lord Balatbat and Lolibeth Ortega shown with their three children: Lheandrew, 13, Lharizia Ann, 12, and Lheana Ann, 7

July 26, 2014

A fund for the three children of the couple who died in the tornado at Cherrystone Campground has been set up at PNC Bank.

All monies contributed will be distributed to the court-appointed legal guardian of the children.

Organizers hope that Shore residents will pull together and help these kids who have lost their parents.

Mail checks to:

Balatbat-Ortega Children’s Fund
PNC Bank
PO Box 623
Onley, VA 23418

Checks may also be hand delivered to the PNC bank in Onley.

County Overview of Storm Aftermath


July 25, 2014

 The state of emergency has been lifted effective 8:30 a.m., Friday, July  25. 

 A strong thunderstorm with damaging winds and hail impacted the Cherrystone Campground area of Northampton County around 8:30 a.m. on July 24. Impacts from this wind event were extensive with many overturned campers and vehicles.  In addition many campsite patrons were injured, with the Northampton EOC reporting 35 injuries requiring hospitalization and 2 confirmed fatalities.  National Weather Service Wakefield visited the site and has confirmed the damage is consistent with an EF-1 tornado.

Northampton County declared a state of emergency immediately following initial response.  Search and rescue operations were immediate and were well coordinated among various federal, state and local agencies.  A mandatory evacuation of the campground was issued and  1,380 visitors to the campsite were evacuated to Northampton High School for temporary shelter.   Many camp patrons subsequently found individual shelter options while others remained at the Northampton shelter.   In the late afternoon, camp patrons were allowed temporary access to the campsite to retrieve personal items.

Northampton County requested assistance from the Hampton Roads Incident Management Team to continue overnight operational planning and coordination.  This team will serve in an incident support role for Northampton County to assist in the recovery efforts.   By 9 p.m. July 24 the Northampton shelter was closed, as most camp patrons had found temporary housing solutions.

Today, camp patrons will be allowed additional site access for the purposes of property recovery and personal property damage assessment.  Governor Terry McAuliffe is scheduled to arrive at the campsite at 10:45 a.m. to conduct a site assessment and deliver a press conference.  Media assets will be allowed to park at a designated staging area and will be allowed limited and controlled access within the campsite.  [Read more...]

EXTRA: County Declares Local Emergency

Overturned camper at Cherrystone Campground (Photo: Jordan Bertok)

Overturned camper at Cherrystone Campground (Photo: Jordan Bertok)

July 24, 2014



WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors of the County of Northampton does hereby find that due to the tornado which occurred on July 24, 2014, the County of Northampton is facing a condition of extreme peril which necessitates the proclamation of the existence of an emergency in order to provide mitigation, preparedness, and activities to protect life and property;

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY PROCLAIMED that an emergency now exists throughout said County; and

IT IS FURTHER PROCLAIMED AND ORDERED that during the existence of said emergency the powers, functions, and duties of the Director of Emergency Services, and the Peacetime Emergency organization of the County of Northampton shall be those prescribed by state law and the ordinances, resolutions, and approved plans of the County of Northampton in order to mitigate the effects of said emergency.

Date:  July 24,  2014
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
County of Northampton
Commonwealth of Virginia

Northampton County issued the following press release at 11 a.m.:

At approximately 8:30 this morning, a tornado struck the Cherrystone area just north of Cape Charles, VA, and moved across the lower Eastern Shore (DelMarVa Peninsula) toward the east over parts of Cheriton. The area impacted includes some of the more populated neighborhoods in the county. Early reports indicate heavy damage was sustained. A tornado alert was issued just before the storm hit. However, one heavily impacted area was a concentration of camp vehicles along the Chesapeake Bay. [Read more...]


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