In a stunning move, the new Northampton Board of Supervisors repealed the controversial and highly contested 2015 zoning ordinance that passed during a lame duck session of the Board on December 5th 2015. Supervisor Robert Duer, after receiving permission to add an action item to the agenda, offered a resolution that would repeal what had just been put in place a month earlier. Certainly a victory for opponents of the ordinance, it was also a severe disappointment for factions that worked for over 3 years to push the then proposed zoning through.
Supervisor Bennett offered a reserved response, “In the future I hope there will be some positive things happening for the citizens of Northampton County, we have a constituency that is very intelligent, but at the same time…but I have to vote against this.”
A visually disappointed Vice Chairman Larry LeMond commented, “Obviously after spending the last two years on the new zoning, like Mr. Bennett I’m not surprised, I was hoping we would take the new ordinance, that we admitted wasn’t perfect, but was better than the one we had, but just improve on those certain items instead of just throwing the whole thing out.”
An emotional and tearful Granville Hogg added, “It is not what you and I want it is about what we want as a community, I asked for your help and those voters have responded, they have made a statement, but the job doesn’t end there, there is a commitment to make it work. Thank you.” After Hogg finished, there was an extended standing ovation by members of the audience.
Newly elected Chairman Spencer Murray continued, “In the 30 years that I Deborah and I have lived in Northampton County I cannot recall an issue that has consumed more resources; this issue has confused and divided our citizens to the extent that many questioned the motives of others, and have lost faith in their government. The public spoke to this issue on November 3rd of last year. I believe the expedited 2015 vote on the zoning ordinance threw the baby out with the bath water, yet I understand the action we are about to undertake will be a bitter pill to swallow for those that have worked on this for close to 3 years, this is not an attempt to put the genie back in the bottle and go backwards, the amendments we propose tonight take us forward in many ways. I ask the staff and the public to scrutinize these amendments, provide the feedback, we are asking for no shortcuts. We will listen.”
The voted passed 3 -2, Hogg, Duer and Murray for, LeMond and Bennett against.