Zoning, Health Care Big Issues at Town Hall Meeting

County Supervisor Granville Hogg meets with constituents at Cape Charles Museum. (Wave photo)

County Supervisor Granville Hogg meets with constituents at Cape Charles Museum. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

April 28, 2014

County residents filled the seating at the Cape Charles Museum April 23 for a Town Hall meeting hosted by Northampton County Supervisor Granville Hogg – the second since his election in November. The hot-button issues were county rezoning and diminishing health care.

David Boyd asked why the Board of Supervisors seemed to have thrown out the Comprehensive Plan and come up with totally different zoning that has no input from all of the meetings and effort that had been put into the Comprehensive Plan six years ago. Hogg responded, “I can’t answer that.”

Hogg said he had read many negative comments about the proposed zoning changes, and was disappointed that Board of Supervisors chairman Larry LeMond insisted that “we are moving forward and this is what we’re going to do.”  Peg Volk asked, “Mr. Hogg, what is our recourse here? We’re talking recall.” Another attendee echoed, “recall.”

George Southern asked Hogg if he were willing to make a motion to withdraw the zoning amendment proposals to give the Planning Commission more time to review the changes. Hogg said that he would make the motion, and the room erupted in applause.

David Kabler said that he met with Supervisor Rick Hubbard the previous evening and asked him to back Hogg in withdrawing the zoning proposals, but received no assurance from Hubbard. Kabler said he had also asked Chairman LeMond to stop the zoning changes, but to no avail.

Kabler emphasized that a town meeting should be where citizens do the talking and their elected representatives listen. Hogg proceeded to listen as Kabler said he told LeMond that the Supervisors have two options: “One, they pass the zoning as adjusted by the Planning Commission, or two, they withdraw it. Option A is going to be a war. Option B is going to be placating things. Peace will come here. And they can act on the school and the hospital and all that.”

Hogg responded, “I guarantee you that there will be discussions going on after this evening’s meeting. I’m taking the velvet off of the hammer.”


Although the proposed zoning ordinance was the most emotional issue of the night, the departure of Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital from the county was a close second. Cape Charles Mayor Dora Sullivan led the charge, noting that she was a member of the hoc health committee created to make a plan of action to deal with the hospital’s departure. She was disappointed that the County Supervisors had refused to consider making a request for proposal to create an emergency department, citing an insufficient county population. Sullivan said that since the county would not request a proposal, the Town of Cape Charles would make the request.

Malcolm Hayward said that the county will not attract retirees if there is no emergency medical care available. When Hogg suggested that volunteers could help out, a number of speakers rejected that idea. Lenore Hart said that in her experience you can’t always rely on volunteers, and Sarah Morgan and Mayor Sullivan agreed.

Kabler, a Realtor, noted that one of the first questions people ask when looking for a retirement property is, “Where are the healthcare facilities?” A hospital in Onancock is too far away, he stressed.

Volk asked, “Why is the BOS talking about zoning? Healthcare is what you need to spend your time and energy on.” Other speakers emphasized that the county’s economic development director should concentrate on health care options rather than rezoning.

Cape Charles mayoral candidate Frank Wendell questioned Hogg about the county’s plan to provide sewage service for commercial properties along Route 13 when very few of the property owners even replied to a PSA survey about the service. “Why would you jeopardize the jobs and the medical services that plan to stay in Nassawadox when the hospital leaves? Shouldn’t that come first?” Wendell asked. He also said the county needs to focus its energies on improving the school system if it wants to attract businesses.

Nancy Proto, wife of Cape Charles mayoral candidate George Proto and a longtime educator, noted that 72 percent of children in the county school system are on a free and reduced lunch program. That indicates that there is a poverty problem here, she said — “With poverty come intense needs.” She said that the county needs to provide infrastructure to help students and families deal with the issues that are keeping teachers from being able to teach students.










11 Responses to “Zoning, Health Care Big Issues at Town Hall Meeting”

  1. Nancy Proto on April 28th, 2014 9:14 am

    A clarification on my comment at the Town Hall meeting. Northampton Schools have intense needs. These needs create challenges for teachers that make teaching difficult. The needs do not keep teachers from teaching. They are teaching!

    I know several teachers in the area and they are committed to the kids and to doing a good job. That said, they do need more support because of the problems associated with poverty. The high rate of free and reduced lunch students is a good indicator of the degree of poverty in the area. As I mentioned in the meeting, poverty, educational disabilities, students where English is not the primary language spoken in the home (ESL students), are just some of the needs –- behavior, I understand, is another. Teachers cannot “teach away” these concerns. They need help –- hence the need for an infrastructure in the schools. Schools need nurses, social workers, behavior specialists, school psychologists and more intense remedial programs to provide support to families, students and teachers. Some of these programs and services I am sure already exist.

    If I understand Mr. Hogg correctly, he stated that the amount of money spent per child in Northampton County Schools is consistent with other schools. In my opinion, that is exactly the problem. We have far greater needs, which require far greater interventions. Again, as I mentioned at the meeting: Intense needs require intense interventions. Failure to provide those interventions makes the teachers’ job more difficult. We need to better align services and programs with the needs of our school community.

  2. Donna Bozza on April 28th, 2014 9:24 am

    Kudos both to Supervisor Hogg and the Cape Charles Wave for bringing these crucial issues out of the dark and into the light of public participation. Northampton County government needs to remember who they work for.

  3. Danielle Campbell on April 28th, 2014 10:14 am

    It is interesting that the last paragraph of this article states that 72% of the children in county schools are on free and reduced lunch — that does state there is a poverty issue. How do you change that? Bringing industry and creating jobs — right? To Northampton County (as a whole), 2+2=4 (Would ya believe it?) Changes may be needed — things cannot stay the same forever. It is not the Nature of the Beast. I know I am just another “dumb come-here,” but I have voted for our local government including the current regime for over 12 years now. However, it seems to me that our local government may be in need of some reminders of how representing “the people” works. With that being said, “The People” need to be doing their part as well: Participate — and if you don’t, then voice your opinion NICELY, via letters or emails. This whole zoning situation sounds like a mess, and if a Chairman of a Board insists that we are going to move forward without having gone through the appropriate channels or actions, then shame on him. Our Board is made up of individuals WE voted in — they represent us, and again if you want them to know something that you disagree upon, it is your job to tell them. If you don’t voice it then you can’t complain about it. Mr. Hogg is not the only member of the Board of Supervisors — I think maybe we need a town hall meeting with all of them, not just one. Running your mouth to your neighbor and then doing nothing will get you nowhere.

    And one more thought: We are not the first county to not have a hospital. Our county’s population is estimated at just over 12,000 people; Accomack County’s estimated population is just over 33,000. How long have they been with no hospital? Come on people, the world really doesn’t spin around Cape Charles or Northampton County.

    Take the time to think about what you need to be saying to our local government officials. You want to see something stopped or done different — then follow Mr. Hogg’s lead and talk to your Board of Supervisors — ALL of them. We made them responsible — now hold them accountable.

  4. Donna Bozza on April 28th, 2014 12:09 pm

    Yes Danielle so true! We voted them in and WE need to hold them accountable! Tonight come out to Eastville 5pm to see if our supervisors will open the zoning issue to much needed discussion. Mr. Hogg says he will ask his fellow supervisors.

  5. Bobby Roberts on April 28th, 2014 12:11 pm

    Finally! Some leadership back on our county Board of Supervisors–at least one who understands what leadership means. Mr Hogg stands up and talks, and then listens—even when he’s on the hot seat. Where are the rest of the Supervisors? Some of them don’t even return phone calls.

    May be pointless to keep talking to the ones who don’t listen. We can vote them out of office next time around. But at least 4 of them sound determined to do a whole lot of damage to the county before we can replace them.

    What’s the alternative?

  6. Cathy Buyrn on April 29th, 2014 6:41 am

    Northampton County is in need of economic development that will actually provide a living wage for county residents. That being said the 72% free and reduced lunch figure for our county schools doesn’t imply that those children live in households where education and appropriate behavior aren’t reinforced. Some of the children who qualify for free and reduced lunch are the children of local teachers who are single parents. Many of the children who qualify for free and reduced lunch are the children of hard working people who are doing their best to get by. It is a mistake to assume that they are all in need of intense behavioral and remedial academic services.

    It is also a mistake to assume that the solution can be found by throwing money at the problems we face. We are just finishing a 3 year federal school improvement grant where millions of dollars were spent on such interventions. I worked in the county schools for 14 years and in the years since I left I’ve seen an unbelievable influx of mental health counselors, tutors, and specialists in classrooms trying to figure it out. The adults are bumping into each other and scratching their heads analyzing piles of test data.

    Teachers are working hard, but the reality is that teaching isn’t really happening if learning isn’t happening. As a teacher I know that I haven’t taught something if it isn’t received by the learner. We have to get back to making connections with students and inspiring them to love learning instead of building test taking stamina. When we accomplish that, the tests will take care of themselves.

  7. Wayne Creed on April 29th, 2014 9:19 am

    When Mr. Hogg states that our schools are receiving a reasonable and consistent amount of funding, that is true, and as it should be. Northampton, as well as Accomack County schools, are completely aware of the complex nature of problems facing our kids, and are diligently working every day to attempt to meet their needs. This has been accomplished through Medicaid programs that allow for adjunct counselors, social workers, and psychologists to work with at-risk students both within the institution and also through in-home counseling, so that they can find some modicum of success, while hopefully mitigating behaviors that may also be disruptive and impede the natural progress of the classroom.

    That said, Northampton is really not any more special than many other school systems. Ask Norfolk, Richmond, Southampton, Wythe, or even Arlington, Alexandria, or Fairfax County. They all have problems, they all have poverty, they all have cultural and socioeconomic gaps, and as educators, have to find ways to address these problems. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative aspects of our schools (yes, they are daunting), but when you really get to know the kids of Northampton (on the ball field, on the stage, etc.), and cut through the hysteria and ignorance, in most cases, you’re going to find a lot more success stories, and a lot more to be hopeful about.

  8. Cathy Buyrn on April 29th, 2014 11:07 am

    I do not believe that the challenge of meeting the complex needs of all of our students has been “accomplished”. I am also not sure that creating mental health histories for children because they are struggling and happen to have billable Medicaid benefits is the best solution. The consequences of such an approach may create lifelong issues for these students. Often times there are preventative strategies that can be implemented to avoid the unnecessary labeling of students. Northampton may face the same struggles as other school systems, but it is special because it is our school system and it is critical for us to get ahead of the crisis. It is critical for our children and for our community at large.

  9. Mike Kuzma on April 29th, 2014 12:39 pm

    Cathy — You have to understand that to some, more Government is the answer to EVERYTHING.
    It is amazing how prosperous the Eastern Shore was prior to the New Deal and Big Government.

    Actually, no it is not. Not at all.

  10. David Boyd on April 29th, 2014 4:18 pm

    Some good thoughtful comments here. I agree with Mr. Creed that Northampton schools are not unique in the problems they face. Many other public schools face similar dilemmas.

    However, Cathy Buyrn’s comment is perhaps most insightful: “We have to get back to making connections with students and inspiring them to love learning instead of building test taking stamina. When we accomplish that, the tests will take care of themselves.”

    Tests may be important to let us measure progress, but without the love for learning, all the rest is a waste of time!

  11. Wayne Creed on April 29th, 2014 5:26 pm

    The work of the public school system is never in a state of “mission accomplished,” but is always a work in progress, intrinsically tied to place, time and culture. It is the 21st century, and as some so-called educators have exited stage left, a talented, new generation is coming aboard to finally clean up their mess. And yes, they understand that, by no fault of their own, some kids have issues that must be addressed, whether it be chemical, social, economic or cultural. It’s not about labels but about providing services. Just think how many people from the last century who, if had they had been provided the services they deserved, might have avoided JD, County or eventually the state or Federal penitentiary. If someone has vision problems, you would certainly address it by getting them glasses. Why would you leave a child clinically diagnosed with say, ADHD untreated (and leave them to endure the constant negative berating that will follow)? No, you don’t do that. Not in 2014, in America.