November 24, 2014
In regard to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors’ unilateral plan to change the current zoning ordinance to resemble an Ocean City or Virginia Beach model of development, it raises my ire when Supervisors such as Larry Trala dismiss those of us seeking more of a voice in this process as “come-heres.” This conjurs up the “pot and the kettle” scenario considering we have been told Larry may have roots in Detroit.
I take this dismissal personally, and must respond to several issues regarding various statements made by the Supervisors who are promoting the rezoning campaign. In response to the “come-here” remark, I have two comments. First, those who have discovered Northampton County and have decided to move here and invest much of their life’s savings in this great county do so because they have fallen in love with what we have to offer. Their tax dollars support our schools, our roads, our businesses, our support services, and our cultural resources. Rather than branding them something less than what they are as “come-heres,” we should open our arms and realize that they are here because they are “wanna-be-heres” as Art Schwarzschild recently stated at a public forum on the rezoning debate, and have fallen in love with the county for what it isn’t (Ocean City or Virginia Beach) — a scenario that is being threatened by this closed-door scheme.
As for this “come here,” I don’t think so. In fact, my father’s family, the Schoolfields, came to the Eastern Shore with the contingents that accompanied Lord Baltimore in the 1600s. My maternal great-grandfather, G. Russel Smith, was a horse-and-buggy doctor in Cheriton in the 19th century. His daughter, my grandmother, and her husband, Gansevoort Hurlbut, bought the majestic Wellington estate on the Nassawadox in the 1930s and later purchased the smaller Refuge estate, now the home of the county attorney (one of the prime movers of the “let anyone do anything they want on their property” zoning revision). My grandmother also worked at the Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital and helped raise the funds necessary to build that facility. I was born in that hospital 60 years ago (wow, where does the time go?) and spent many years and indeed every summer of my life on the Nassawadox Creek with my children. And as for my “come-here” husband, Ken, he is a “brought-here” — by me — and his involvement in the zoning debate is partly because I asked him to do so because I owe it to my heritage to protect this county from impending assault, and partly because we both want to protect our many investments in Northampton County and the Town of Exmore. [Read more...]
November 24, 2014
Several of our key Northampton elected and salaried officials apparently have taken zoning matters into their own hands thus necessitating the Shore citizens groups’ volunteer forum November 6 to bring us up to speed — in a cordial, impressively professional manner — on the complexities of the disturbing scenario. We owe CBES [Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore] and Shorekeeper our gratitude and respect.
Four centuries ago the original Shore inhabitants were blindsided with the arrival of Europeans who in short order — a generation or so — transformed forever their heritage and way of life by relocating them (displacement) to a reservation, the 52 acre fragment of which remains today as Indiantown Park, Eastville seaside. No matter that the natives were friendly and peaceful, used coastal waterways as their highways, and were not prone to fouling their own nests as they moved back and forth seasonally from their small scattered settlements.
Equally soon by early spring of 1651-1652 the invasive settlers found cause to protest excessive taxation in the first such demonstration in American history. So, you see, dramatic earth shaking and shaping events can happen very quickly. We may be on a similar precipice.
Thus far our elected officials — save one — propose opening Pandora’s box for unbridled development on our rural lower peninsula, not only with the potential for a bar in Franktown as our hospital closes down, but also more seriously with unannounced nasty wastes and dangerous biomass uses. Their unleashed rezoning ignores state code requiring a (formerly carefully crafted) Comprehensive Plan as its foundation, the format of which was defined by Northampton citizen input over an extended period. Thankfully our Comp Plan, aka the backbone approved by state code, remains a flexible document in that it can be adjusted or amended when necessary. Critics of rezoning often have cited this key advantage. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it? [Read more...]
November 17, 2014
Keep your kitties inside! Evidentially there was a complaint filed with the Sheriff’s office by a woman who was disturbed by the cats in her yard. Consequently, the Sheriff’s office and Animal Control are actively hunting cats in the Cape Charles Central Park area. No animal is safe — it is open season on Cape Charles cats. If you are missing an animal you need to call Animal Control in Onley at 757-787-7385 to identify the animal and produce evidence of rabies vaccinations to reclaim the animal. [Read more...]
By DONNA BOZZA
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. [Read more...]
By WAYNE CREED
November 10, 2014
In 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed the Great Atlantic Sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act. This is usually bad news, but since sightings and spawning grounds were so rare, the fact that there was enough sturgeon left to even warrant the declaration is a good thing. Two years later, we find that they are once again spawning in the Chesapeake Bay just outside the James River.
A bit of a homecoming, the fish was critical to the first English settlement at Jamestown, and was noted by inhabitants as the “founding fish.” Historians and archaeologists unearthing the history of the Jamestown colony have called the sturgeon “The fish that saved Jamestown.” During a period known as “The Starving Time,” it was the one food source available to the English colonists that kept them alive. Because of their familiarity with the sturgeon species from the Thames River in England, they knew how to catch and cook the fish. [Read more...]
October 31, 2014
Where is our County Treasurer, Cynthia Bradford, these days — is she in the State of Maryland or in Eastville, Virginia?
We are instructed to send our real estate taxes to Baltimore, Maryland. That’s approximately $50 million total. Why should those funds be deposited in Maryland instead of a bank in Virginia that is under the jurisdiction and scrutiny of our state?
As a taxpayer, I care where my money is being held. [Read more...]
By WAYNE CREED
October 20, 2014
Some have described the Stay Tuned Music Fest on Oct 4 at the Shanty as a flop, or even an epic fail. Even if it was, that’s not really a bad thing. Getting in the ring and taking a swing is the most important part — these festival things are hard to predict, and given the limited population and demographic, they sometimes don’t turn out as well as we hope.
I know the promoters, and I’m sure they will collect some Lessons Learned, and make some adjustments for next time (maybe move to coincide with Harbor for the Arts, or go old school with Shore Made Music by Shore Made Musicians — then cook up a pig, some crabs or oysters, with plenty of cold beer).
All this aside, there was still something about Stay Tuned Fest that bothered me; as if something was just a bit off. One evening, after a few martinis, staring at the old brick at Kelly’s, I realized just what was bugging me: it was that holding the event at that location (new harbor) lacked so much authenticity, and was so typical of the New Cape Charles — that is, to completely ignore the old Eastern Shore ways and arrogantly try to impose some foreign aesthetic in its place. [Read more...]
October 6, 2014
Confusion and lack of vision seem to be the normal operating tools of the government in Northampton County, an obvious observation from the September 29 meeting. Why pay a reported $220,000 to DJG Architects for a report on what to do with an old rundown, outdated, energy-hog building that consumes $110,000 yearly just sitting there doing nothing? Which universe has common sense evaporated into?
The DJG report could easily have been performed for $5,000-$8,000 in this day of computerization. Being a retired building contractor, I understand this is one way architects make high salaries when dealing with government bodies, but just why does the Board of Supervisors lack the ability to think this through on their own in the first place?
And what decision was made by the Board of Supervisors at this meeting concerning the Machipongo School? Let it sit there a while longer was the decision.
We don’t know what to do? We have plenty of taxpayer money to spend, they must think. Let’s just keep spending $9,166 a month to let the building sit and deteriorate. This is a welcome sign to Shore visitors and perspective investors of the collapsing economy and the declining Northampton County population. Letting the building sit vacant costs $2,291 per week, in one of the poorest and least educated counties in Virginia. Just how is the public being served by these kinds of decisions and activities?
A large part of the EMS issue now under consideration could have been solved with that $220,000. Garages are needed to keep the EMS trucks tucked away so the equipment is out of the inclement weather. If approached creatively, not simply squandering money because it’s the taxpayers’, and friends are making a profit (which is public fraud in some people’s eyes), four separate commercial metal buildings with concrete slabs could have been constructed in Northampton County for approximately $100,000 total! Look at the Randy Custis Memorial Ball Park. Ask Phil Custis how his first metal structure was built for $7.50 a square foot. If the BOS had allocated that $222,000 correctly towards the EMS issue, it would have left $120,000 as an emergency EMS fund to be intelligently used as needed. And it’s the EMS staff that know their needs best. Continuing to jointly use Volunteer Fire Department buildings, as in Nassawadox and Melfa, is an excellent way to buddy up on community needs as opposed to increasing costly and additional ill-conceived bureaucracy and tax burden. [Read more...]