On the table for the Northampton Board of Supervisors, was the review of ten prominent Agricultural Forest Districts (AFDs), which have in recent years played a major role in maintaining the County’s rural character and open space. For and in-depth look at AFDs, see Janet Sturgis’ article here. The AFDs under review were:
Church Neck AFD: The Church Neck AFD is located along both sides of Church Neck Road (SR 619) and extending along the north and south side of Sparrow Point Road (SR 657).
Concord AFD: The Concord AFD is located along both sides of Occohannock Neck Road (SR 183) and TB Road (SR 607) extending along the east and west side of Wardtown Road (SR 606).
Jamesville AFD: The Jamesville AFD is located along both sides Occohannock Neck Road (SR 183) and James Wharf Road (SR 614) and extending north-west along Sturgis House Drive (SR 676).
Old Plantation AFD: The Old Plantation AFD is located along both sides of Jacobia Lane (SR 682) and Plantation Drive (SR 643).
Pickett’s Harbor AFD: The Pickett’s Harbor AFD is located along both sides of Arlington Road (SR 645) and extending west of Lankford Highway (SR 13).
Point Pleasant AFD: The Point Pleasant AFD is located along both sides of Seaside Road (SR 600) and extending east of Lankford Highway (SR 13).
Also, there was a request to withdraw from Pickett’s Harbor AFD: Denard C. Spady & Dora Weston Spady Wilkins have requested to withdraw property identified as Tax Map 112 double circle A parcel 39 and located at the intersection of Smaw Drive and Arlington Road.
There was a large turnout by the Agricultural community, all of whom spoke in favor of keeping the AFDs in place. The main emphasis was that, given the current climate, with expenses exceeding returns on crop prices, farmers, especially those that work small, family farms, they need breaks like AFDs in order continue to keep agriculture viable in Northampton. Although the board approved the extensions, there was still a consensus that more needs to be done to make the process more open, and yet more fair (Supervisor Bennett abstained from all the votes).
Supervisor Hogg said, “It is difficult to make an informed decision when the form just isn’t complete.
Supervisor Lemond added, “This board should sit down and work on the process and get a good point system where it’s fair to everyone concerned.”
PatrickCody, formerly of the Adhoc Tax Study Committee, addressed he board, “We considered three major issues, whether AFDs or land use taxation made sense for Northampton, whether the rate of taxation was appropriate, and whether the implementation was equitable treatment land taxation as it compared to other localities. The committee spent numerable hours going over these issues, and came back with some recommendations for the process, that they thought would make it more equitable, for AFD applicants, and laid out an example process. What I have heard so far tonight is that none of those steps have been implemented as of yet. Since there was no feedback to the committee, which puts the committee in the position of having wasted our time. In future years you have major renewals coming up on AFDs, and the effect they will have on the county will be major depending on what that and I would suggest that you go back and look at your committee’s report and make some concrete decision.”
The board also approved a proposed amendment to County code Use Regulations, which will allow for outpatient medical facilities to be constructed in Agricultural/Rural Business Zoning Districts by Major Special Use Permit. The approval opens the door for private entities to begin to tackle the gap in services that already exists on the lower end of Northampton, and which will soon be magnified once the Riverside move north is complete.