In a stunning move, the Northampton Board of Supervisors, despite 123 minutes of public comment against, approved the controversial changes to the county map and zoning ordinance. Administrator Katie Nunez laid out the options in three lists:
A. Accept all or some of these recommendations from the Planning Commission, with the ability to make alterations, but with no public hearing required.
B. These recommendations would require public hearings.
C. Contingent items that would remain in place until such time as items B can be addressed through public hearing.
“I feel like we missed it,” said Supervisor Granville Hogg. “There are a lot of good things that have come out of this, but I just don’t think this document is ready to be adopted. My constituents and peers would severely admonish me if I voted to approve this document. I regret to say this is not a document I can say I am proud of.”
Supervisor Larry Trala read a prepared motion, which covered the items from list A (that do not require a public hearing) in detail, taking nearly twelve minutes to complete the oratory. When finished, Supervisors Bennett, LeMond and Trala voted yes, Hubbard and Hogg voted no – the motion carried 3-2. Items left from list ‘B’ will either be taken up at the last meeting of this board on December 28th, or possibly left for the newly elected board in the next year.
Of note, the Planning Commission had recommended that ammonia scrubbers be removed as a requirement for the implementation of intensive poultry operations; this item was instead left in as requirement, as well as the larger setbacks. While the poultry industry was apparently stymied, what appeared to be the true end game for this entire exercise appeared complete. Contained within the approved items in the motion is a scenario that opens the door to more development and much higher density.
The only question left remaining is which developer is going to be the first one at the door when county offices open tomorrow.