Slow Down, Supervisors — This Is God’s Country

January 26, 2015

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Penny Lusk wrote the following letter to Northampton County Supervisors, and requested the Wave to publish it. We are pleased to do so.)

To: Chairman Richard Hubbard, District 4; Granville Hogg, District 1; Larry Trala, District 5; Larry LeMond, District 2; Oliver Bennett, District 3


Outside of Fort Adkins, Wisconsin, in the hill country, you might come upon a sign on the side of an old barn. In large letters it reads, “Slow down. This is God’s country.” Is the sign meant to slow traffic or to get folks to stop and see beautiful nature, or, in the stopping and looking, to soul-search about what is important for good living? The stalwart agrarian folk of that area have a good handle on nature, hard work, and community.

Please, please, Northampton Board of Supervisors, slow down with these new zoning plans. Eastern Shore families have the same basic values as those rural Wisconsin folk. If rural is unattractive, why are so many young adults coming back. They are black, white, and Latino. They are medical professionals, entrepreneurs, small business starters, teachers, lawyers, contractors, aquaculture farmers and workers, organic farmers, artists, and tour guides. Many employ others, and all pay taxes. Some work several jobs just for the privilege of living here and raising their children in this rural environment.

The economic crash of ’08, mostly due to speculation gone awry, left us here in Northampton County with many subdivided lots sitting empty, causing costs to the county and loss of state funds for our schools.

On the plus side, since then, aquaculture and tourism have boomed and more small businesses have come and stayed. Organic farming is growing, our conventional farming is stronger, and our nursery businesses remain healthy. How incredible is all this that such a tiny county with a limited aquifer and a fragile but very special environment with rare habitat could prevail!

We are also blessed with retired citizens who have come with experience and expertise because they like what we are and what is here. They have seen their worlds paved over in the name of progress. They bring their grandchildren here to see the stars. We really do shine in today’s world.


Citizens have gathered often to try to voice their concerns and to try to understand the “why and wherefore” of our Supervisors’ decision to rewrite the zoning code — a code written not so long ago. Reviewed and passed by a Planning Commission with Supervisors who encouraged, listened, and deliberated on much citizen input. We were proud both to see local government working in this way and to be a part of it.

There will always be change, but ignoring our comprehensive plan is a slap in the face to all of us. It is neither wise nor fair. It is hard to believe that five men, entrusted as you have been, could throw away the things that are working in our county. Why? Who are your advisors? What is their expertise? Their background? And, most importantly, their motivation? Please have an open meeting and tell us why.

Speculation is perfectly legal and fine for the educated risk-taker; but manipulation of local government for speculation is ethically wrong!





5 Responses to “LETTER
Slow Down, Supervisors — This Is God’s Country”

  1. Dawn Diamond on January 26th, 2015 7:30 am

    Thank you, Penny, for your letter that made the argument to slow down with the new zoning plans. You made your point, and ours, without being acerbic. I wish I could have expressed myself this well.

  2. David Gay on January 26th, 2015 8:47 am

    Well said Penny. The BOS is on a collision course with the voters and they just don’t seem to get it.

  3. David Boyd on January 26th, 2015 9:23 am

    What a beautifully written letter, Penny. Thanks for sharing and making such an eloquent statement of our values on the Shore.

  4. Mark Martin on January 26th, 2015 12:54 pm

    In the same breath you tout “young adults coming back” starting businesses, creating jobs, generating revenue, as a positive for the shore but then you shun new zoning laws that may ease restrictions on those starting new businesses and bringing revenue to the county. Like many, I believe there is a disconnect between perceived and actual implications of the new zoning ordinances.

  5. Stuart L. Bell on January 30th, 2015 9:48 am

    From the looks of Onancock and Cape Charles . . . It is Already Gone.