I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the March 9, 2016 public hearing on the amendment to the 2009 zoning ordinance and appreciate this opportunity to give your readers my take on what happened on that night. After a brief presentation by our $3,000/week county administrator (whose salary and benefits are paid by a poor county with only 12,000 people) who by the way has mismanaged this county to the brink of fiscal collapse, Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission Dixon Leatherbury took on the Board of Supervisors, expressing his frustration that the 2015 zoning ordinance was being challenged. He forgot to mention that his wife, Bev Leatherbury was a co-author of the new commercial real estate manifesto, as she is part of the county’s legal team who has been on the front lines of this ridiculous scheme. He is joined by Mike Ward on the Commission, another major player on the planning team running the ball toward the 2015 goal post and a major contributor to the pending rewrite of the Comprehensive Plan (and wait til you see that!). Mr. Ward never mentions that his wife is a real estate for Coldwell Banker while at the same time he pushes for the 2015 zoning ordinance which will break up Northampton County in a manner similar to commercial development in Virginia Beach and Ocean City (whose real estate taxes because of that scheme are nearly twice that of Northampton County’s).
Next up was a slew of “Yellow Shirts” (except for ousted Supervisor Rick Hubbard who wore instead a bright yellow sweater) who, while complaining that the supporters of the 2009 zoning ordinance were using “scare tactics and misinformation”, waved their arms and stamped their feet basically arguing that they want to do anything and everything they want and to blazes with law and code. “This is America”, they yelled! “Bring on the chicken houses, build those condos and high rises on our waterfronts…don’t get in our way!….We need more tax revenue by commercializing this county!”. Note that if they are successful, we will be the first county in America where our taxes go down after we pave over our farmland, stop our rainwater from replenishing our drinking water supplies, and put multiple developments like Royal Farms where our crops once grew.
But what was truly incredible was the number of yellow dressed real estate agents who belittled the new Board members simply because they were doing what they promised to do (repeal the private interest driven 2015 code) when we overwhelmingly elected them last November. One of the most bizarre attacks on the Supervisors was delivered by Pat Coady, who ripped off his yellow shirt (that says Support the 2015 Zoning Ordinance) after attacking our new Board member Robert Duer by saying this fine man only cares about Exmore (a wholly unsupported and false claim). The entire night reminded me of a real bad Monty Python show and was, simply put, a disgusting show of thuggery by the yellow shirts, in complete disregard for the will of the majority of residents (reflected in our current
Comprehensive Plan and supporting 2009 ordinance) and thumbing their nose at code and law. During my speech to the Supervisors and Planning Commission members (I say the PC now represents nothing more than a poor joke given their dismal track record), I asked where the yellow shirts were over the last two years when thousands of citizens were working to right the impending wrongs of the expensive and ill-conceived zoning fiasco. And I took the liberty by answering it by saying they remained “sleeping” because they seemed to know that they had the old Board in their hip pocket and were guaranteed that the Board would ram the new zoning down our throats before they were ousted from their positions last December. Men behind the curtain, if you will.
While the yellow clad thugs may feel they won the day by their nearly surreal performance during the public hearing, most of us left the room feeling we had just been to a Trump rally, and I want to say this: no amount of Yellow Shirts can “trump” Virginia Code and law, or override the fact that we are a nation of laws and civility……and the yellow clad biddie vigilantes who wish we were not need to revisit their approach. Frankly, it did them no favors…and that goes for the Planning Commission who is now the laughing stock of the county and, due to their selfserving underperformance since Commissioner Coker and Kellam have resigned, have rendered their very administrative existence meaningless (except for Commissioner Fauber, that is).
Leo Kellam 6091 Wardrtown Road, Exmore, Va 23350 4423802