Donna Bozza Is New CBES Executive Director

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CBES President Arthur Upshur, new CBES Executive Director Donna Bozza, and outgoing CBES Executive Director Denard Spady

November 1, 2014

Donna Bozza is the new executive director for Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore. She succeeds Denard Spady who is retiring after nearly 20 years as director.

CBES, a non-profit organization formed 26 years ago to promote balanced growth in Accomack and Northampton counties while enhancing the quality of life for all citizens and preserving natural resources.

Bozza will be the first CBES executive director to serve full-time, which is being done to expand the organization’s role and effectiveness. The change to full-time work mirrors the move made recently by Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, which was initially established by CBES.

“We have been fortunate in being able to hire, as our Executive Directors, two people of exceptional qualifications: Jay Ford, who became the VES Executive Director and Shorekeeper last November, and now Donna Bozza, the new Executive Director of CBES,” said Jack Ordeman, board member and past president of CBES and president of Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper. “We are confident that both organizations will increase their influence and better fulfill the goals of their Mission Statements under their capable and inspiring leadership,” he said. [Read more...]

EXTRA: County Won’t Drop Seaside Protections

By KEN DUFTY

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; [Read more...]

Shorekeeper Thanks Public for Keeping Up Pressure

By JAY FORD
Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper

October 28, 2014

Last night (October 27) the Northampton Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to keep the vital water quality protections of the Bay Protection Act in place county wide. This is a huge step in protecting our delicate intertidal zone and the men and women who can make a living because of our clean waters.

Many of you wrote letters to the county, spoke at countless public comment periods, or joined the over 500 citizens in signing our petition to keep the Bay Protection Act and I want to thank each and every one of you.

Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper will continue to work on additional threats to our water quality included in the zoning overhaul but we also believe in taking time to give credit when credit is due. Please take a moment to contact your supervisor and thank them for keeping the Bay Protection Act in place county-wide. [Read more...]

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EXTRA: Town Planner Rob Testerman Resigns

Town Planner Rob Testerman

Town Planner Testerman

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

October 21, 2014

Two working days after Cape Charles Town Council shot down the “urban chicken” concept, the brainchild behind the proposal, Town Planner Rob Testerman, submitted his resignation.

Mayor George Proto told the Wave that he learned yesterday (Monday) that Testerman was leaving to accept a “better” job with supervisory authority. Proto stressed that Testerman’s departure is on very amicable terms — the town has been very happy with his work over the past year, the mayor said. [Read more...]

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Town Conceals Cost of Job Search for New Manager

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

October 6, 2014

When Cape Charles Town Council approved a $10,000 employee wage study by Springsted Inc. last February, the Wave publicized the action — and a number of readers reacted negatively to the town’s decision. (CLICK to read letter from David Gay: “Town Paying $10,000 for Free Information.”)

Apparently wishing to avoid further bad publicity, when Town Council decided to hire the same firm again — this time to search for a new town manager — they did it behind closed doors. The official minutes following the July 31, 2014, executive session (CLICK) refer only to a motion “to hire Springsted Inc. per their proposal for executive search services for the Town Manager position as discussed.” The “as discussed” part will forever remain secret, as no minutes are recorded for executive sessions. There will be no explanation, for example, why Town Council chose Springsted or whether any other headhunter was even considered. [Read more...]

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Bay Creekers Say No to Chickens in Historic District

This fancy backyard chicken house in the Historic District stands empty, awaiting a decision from town officials. (Wave photo)

CAPE CHARLES WAVE

September 29, 2014

Last week the Wave reported the results of a “chicken survey” (CLICK) conducted by Town Planner Rob Testerman: 39 respondents opposed backyard chickens, 35 were in favor, and 7 wanted more information. But the Wave noted that 20 of the responses came from Bay Creek property owners, even though the backyard chicken ordinance would apply only to the Historic District. Bay Creek makes its own rules, and chickens are not allowed. The survey results did not break out Bay Creek respondents, so there was no way to know if the Creekers were skewing the results.

At last Thursday’s work session of Town Council and the Planning Commission, Council member Sambo Brown wanted to know what the survey results would be if Bay Creek responses were eliminated. Planner Testerman didn’t have that information at his fingertips, but he supplied it the next day: Of the 55 Historic District responses, 31 favored backyard chickens, 20 were opposed, and 4 said “maybe.”

That’s a significant change: overall, only 47 percent said yes to backyard chickens, but when the Bay Creek vote is removed, the yes percentage rises to 56 percent. Even more telling, the opposition drops from 52 percent all the way down to 36 percent.

This is not the only time that Bay Creek residents have had a hand in making rules that do not apply to them: Creekers hold 40 percent of the seats on the Historic District Review Board, which must approve any construction in the Historic District but which has no purview in Bay Creek.

Creekers enjoy even more power on the Planning Commission, which also has no jurisdiction in Bay Creek. Nevertheless, the chairman and the majority of members of the Planning Commission reside in Bay Creek. [Read more...]

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Bay Creek Property Owners Get Tax Scare

Northampton County legal notice threatens sale of Bay Creek private roads for back taxes.

Northampton County legal notice threatens sale of Bay Creek private roads for back taxes.

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

September 22, 2014

It took a few months, but an obscure legal notice published June 6 in the Eastern Shore Post finally attracted the attention of Bay Creek property owners when they heard that the private roads they drive on might be sold for back taxes.

The legal notice listed 47 properties owned by Bay Creek LLC, the company owned by Richard “Dickie” Foster. Most of Foster’s former holdings have been sold to Keyser-Sinclair, operating as Bay Creek South LLC. Another portion – the former Bay Creek Marina, Shops, and Aqua Restaurant – was foreclosed and sold to Robert Occhifinto in December 2012.

More than half the properties listed in the legal notice are lots on Stone Road coming into town that have nothing to do with Bay Creek other than that Foster owns them. Those lots have now been conveyed to another entity, “HJ Rail LLC,” also wholly owned by Foster — but the tax is still overdue.

Before the Stone Road lots were listed to be sold for back taxes, Foster offered six other Stone Road lots to the Town of Cape Charles for $100,000, and the town bought them for the asking price. The terms of sale required the $100,000 to be applied against Foster’s delinquent tax bill, both to the town and the county. [Read more...]

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Residents Respond to ‘Urban Chicken’ Survey

These hens had to leave town while officials deliberate whether they can come home. (Photo: Stefanie Hadden)

CAPE CHARLES WAVE

September 22, 2014

Results are in for the Town of Cape Charles “Urban Chicken Survey,” which asked residents their opinion on whether hens should be allowed in town. Town Council and the Planning Commission will hold a work session to discuss the results Thursday, September 25, at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center (Old Library). The public may attend but not speak.

Responses were tabulated from 75 property owners, 20 of whom own in Bay Creek, which has its own rules prohibiting chickens that cannot be overridden by Town Council. Bay Creek responses are not shown separately from Historic District responses. Of the 75 responses, 39 oppose backyard chickens in town, 35 support them, and 7 want more information before making a decision.

Here are the respondents’ comments:

SUPPORT

1. As the dollar is increasingly undermined, raising food will become paramount.

2. I have concerns about the portion of the population that is allergic or highly allergic to chicken feathers, but this is balanced by my support of vegetable gardening and other sustainable homesteading practices.

3. 3-4 chickens [maximum].  NO ROOSTERS. Must be housed in a clean, movable, at least partially covered coop.

4. We have worse eyesores in this town than clean, egg-producing chickens.

5. At this point a fairly large number of urban communities throughout Virginia and the United States allow residents to keep a few hens. They have done this for a number of good reasons. It’s great to know where your food is coming from. Chickens provide natural fertilizer. Chickens eat insects. I encourage Cape Charles to allow owners to raise a few chickens. On a separate note, there seem to be a number of folks in Cape Charles that just let their dog wander around the city. Dogs should be with their owner when they are outside, unless they are in a fenced yard.

6. I feel that chickens are fine but a limit to 6 per lot should be enforced. Chickens have proven to be a great way to control bugs and ticks. Chickens are very interesting and make great pets while providing a variety of benefits.

7. There is no harm in keeping a few chickens as pets or whatever you prefer to call them, or rabbits as long as they have enough room and do not disturb the immediate neighbors.

8. Having observed “up close and personal” chicken keeping in a fenced residential setting I wholeheartedly support the idea and the practice as long as the guidelines set by the town are followed. I built my little “granny cottage” on the rear of my daughter’s home and was interested to learn about and interact with her six hens. My grandsons helped care for the chickens, helping to build and paint their very artistic chicken coop, changing their bedding every day, helping to feed and water them every day and gathering the daily fresh eggs. The chickens naturally went into their coop at sundown every day and were in general very quiet. They did come to “visit” me as I sat on my swing in good weather. They got along well with my two cats — the kitties did not chase the hens. I observed the hens pecking at and eating bugs out of my garden and would settle under a bush to rest. Occasionally they would hop up on my swing to say hello and to softly talk with gentle clucks, and study, this human creature, which I enjoyed. The hens were definitely good pets and educational for the boys. And, the very fresh eggs they provided every day were delicious! We did not keep our hens for slaughter, only for the companionship and education they provided. At 74 years of age, my only prior interaction with chickens was when I was a child, observing my grandmother running after one of her chickens with a cleaver in her hand. So I was entranced by our fascinating chicken pets, their place in our family and in our fenced yard, and would recommend the practice of keeping a few hens to anyone. [Read more...]

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