The following is a memo from citizen Ken Dufty for Thursday’s Northampton County Planning Commission Meeting, covering Bill Parr, and Angelo Manuel’s proposal for 12 cottages and a single-family structure on A RB land.
Last night at the NC Planning Commission monthly meeting the PC held a public hearing on Bill Parr’s and Angelo Manuel’s (Virginia Beach developer) proposal to erect a 2-story residence (motel office perhaps) and 12 Tourist cottages on 40 acres of farmland that Manuel purchased apparently for this purpose last year. It is located off Seaside Road in the vicinity of Royal Farms before the Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The property is zoned Agriculture/Rural Business (A/RB) which has a density limit of one Dwelling Unit per 20 acres, which would allow 2 dwelling units on 40.
Last fall Kelly Parks, the acting Zoning Administrator, informed Manuel multiple times that the application could not be received by the Planning Department because it was inconsistent with the Comp Plan (which has as its core vision the protection, preservation, and promotion of agriculture) which consistency is a requirement by county rules and which consistency is often affirmed by the Supreme Court. Additionally, she informed the applicant that the proposed use was in violation of the density limit for agricultural districts.
But undaunted, according to Parks, Manuel submitted the Special Use Permit application when Susan McGhee was at the receiving desk and at a time and Parks was out. So a public hearing was scheduled and advertised in the Post even though, as Parks had pointed out, the application was far from complete.
This is a problem as, just months ago the Board of Supervisors passed legislation giving the PC ONLY 90 DAYS to give a recommendation to the BOS, and if they missed that deadline, it would be considered approval.
Note that we argued at the time that a developer could be rewarded that approval if he or she submitted an application that was incomplete and we asked to have the Planning Department instructed to have a checklist that must be completed before forwarding it to the PC and advertising it in the paper. Guess that fell on deaf ears….which is not really that shocking, is it?
So anyway, now the clock is ticking and there is so much information missing in the application, we informed the PC that they could NEVER meet the deadline….and this was perhaps by design.
Here is how Mr. Parr responded to the two major reasons this proposal was not legal and should have never made it this far. In response to Kelly Park’s Staff Report, which noted that the application violated the Comprehensive Plan (did not protect, preserve Agriculture), “Once the farmers in Northampton County realize that they can put 12 tourist cottages on their cropland and can’t be stopped because of the precedent, it will indeed be beneficial and help them hold onto the family farms and their ag ops because they will have another revenue stream that they do not currently have…Short-term rentals are not dwelling units and therefore cannot be considered in density requirements.”
In other words, what he is saying is that these “cottages” which will be about 30′ x 27′ and have full-sized kitchens, baths, living room, and 2 bedrooms and front porches, independent wells, and septic systems are not Dwelling Units and therefore can be put anywhere basically in any number because they are exempt from density requirements.
The Planning Commission table the application due to its being incomplete, and would provide the information needed to complete the proposal properly.
DWELLING UNIT: “A SINGLE COMPETE INDEPENDENT LIVING FACILITY FOR ONE OR MORE FAMILIES OR PERSONS PHYSICALLY SEPARATED FROM ANY OTHER DWELLING UNIT WHICH MAY BE IN THE SAME STRUCTURE. AN INDEPENDENT LIVING FACILITY INCLUDES PERMANENT PROVISION FOR LIVING, SLEEPING, EATING, COOKING, AND SANITATION AND MUST COMPLY WITH UNIFORM STATEWIDE BUILDING CODE REQUIREMENTS AND HEALTH DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS. THE PRESENCE OF A BATHROOM CONTAINING A SINK AND TOILET SHALL CONSTITUTE PERMANENT PROVISIONS FOR SANITATION. DWELLING UNITS ARE A UNIT OF MEASUREMENT USED AS ONE OF THE COMPONENTS TO CALCULATE DENSITY.
That is, of course, apparently unless you are Bill Parr who appears exempt from our county code and Comp Plan. Just another bite of the apple and another grab at the brass ring that would have Northampton County transformed into a surrogate Virginia Beach….in my humble opinion. – Ken Dufty