Dr. Mark Freeze, Chairman of the Planning Commission, submitted the final draft of the County Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday night’s Regular Meeting.
According to Dr. Freeze, the Planning Commissioners have spent over 1,000 hours working on this plan.
The major complaint from the board was that the document was too ‘negative’ and focused more on the County’s problems rather than its assets. Dr. Freeze noted that the Hospital and Bayshore Concrete are no longer in the County, leaving the County with a $50 – $60 million shortfall in taxable payroll.
There has been vocal discontent from members of public over proposed changes to the “hallowed” 2009 Comp Plan. Critics have called the draft nothing more than a wish list by the private developers who continue to want to turn Northampton into Virginia Beach or Ocean City.
Larger changes include elimination of Hamlets, changing to Villages with double the density, commercial and industrial uses as compared to what they are now. The plan promotes easier development of Planned Unit Developments (presumably to attract more retirees that appear to flock to gated communities, especially in a county where 20% of the population lives below the poverty line).
Urban Development Areas (UDAs) , which can cover a wide variety of community types, ranging from small town or village centers to suburban activity areas to urban downtowns are also promoted. Virginia Code § 2.2-229, the Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment (OIPI) of the Secretary of Transportation is offering grants for professional planning consultant assistance to local governments and regional entities to establish and support Urban Development Areas. UDAs can help local governments and regional entities to focus investments and create places that attract businesses and workers. The can allow townhouses, 4 single family, 12 apartments or condos or cooperatives (page 4 and 5).
On page 37, the draft states that, “The county should review and revise the current zoning ordinance based on the recommendations in this plan.”
The revised draft will be available at town halls, libraries, at the county office building and eventually the County Planning page on the County website.
The next public hearing on draft plan is scheduled for Wednesday, October 24.