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.


Baldwin will speak sometime after 5 p.m., but his responders, Art Schwarzchild and Jack Ordeman, are not scheduled until sometime well after 7 p.m. Schwarzchild heads the UVA Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center in Oyster, while Ordeman is president of CBES (Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore), which is actively campaigning to preserve seaside protections proposed by the county to be eliminated.

The Wave has obtained an advance copy of Schwarzchild’s comments, which emphasize that all Baldwin needs to do is apply for a Special Use Permit to rent boats, “which I feel certain would be approved.”  He adds that “the communities of Willis Wharf and Oyster would benefit from additional marine-related services near the public boat ramps, including a fuel dock, bait/tackle shop, marina store, and lunch counter/small restaurant.” Schwarzchild says that all those uses are allowable in the commercial areas of Oyster and Willis Wharf, although some uses require a SUP “in order to make certain that the installations meet all required state and local guidelines.”

Schwarzchild is chairman of the Willis Wharf Village Steering Committee. He stressed that “the residents and property owners of Willis Wharf are NOT against development in our village or along our waterfront. We do, however, greatly desire that any such development be in harmony with our Village Vision Statement.”

A reader has pointed out that on September 6, 2011, Baldwin applied for a Special Use Permit to operate a retail waterfront business in Oyster including a marine fueling facility. Both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the application.

CLICK to read statement by Eyre Baldwin
CLICK to read statement by Art Schwarzchild
CLICK to read Sept. 6, 2011 approval for Special Use Permit



One Response to “Zoning Showdown: Baldwin vs Schwarzchild & Ordeman”

  1. Mary M. Wood on August 13th, 2014 8:20 pm

    I think that both gentlemen have great ideas for the waterfront of oyster, va and willis wharf, va. it would be nice to have the store and small restaurant at willis wharf where the locals can also go to spend the afternoon or evening. A great out doors space for dining would be great. a small play park for the kids would be great, while dining or sipping a cold soda.