This month’s County Planning Commission meeting went well past 10 pm, taking up last minute reviews of the draft zoning ordinance, as well as forwarding recommendations on to the Board for consideration at their December 8, 2015 meeting. Once again, public comment was dominated by citizens opposed to the proposed zoning changes. Speakers from Northampton County, including CBES president Donna Bozza, as well as Arthur Upshur, Mary Miller, Wendy Martin, David Kabler, Janet Sturgis, Granville Hogg (as a citizen), Price Clarke, Bob Meyers spoke against what they perceive as the shortcomings in the overall process, as well as just not being simpatico with the current comprehensive plan. The theme of promoting the county as being a place with sustainable development with protections for water and environment was dominant.
There was ample discussion around whether the Planning Commission’s recommendations for changes to the 2015 draft zoning ordinance would require a new public hearing. Long Range Planner Peter Stith felt that there were several changes that would trigger a new public hearing requirement, specifically changes to Town Edge Districts and adding mobile homes(single-wides).
New member Dave Fauber, making his presence felt, made a motion to request that the Board send the zoning ordinance back to the Planning Commission so that the commissioners could take the best parts of the 2009 zoning ordinance with the 2015 draft and come up with a working document that represented the best of both documents. That motion, however did not receive a second. Instead, Fauber offered to send the changes the Planning Commission had made to the draft onto the Board for their consideration. This motion passed unanimously. During other discussions, Fauber noted his opposition to proposed zoning changes, saying that the current Comprehensive Plan discourages commercial development along Route 13 because of the recharge of our groundwater and encourages commercial development into the towns, where the infrastructure is.
Preston Schultz and Pat Shore from midest corporation HECATE ENERGY announced plans to build a 20 megawatt solar facility west of Seaside near Cherrydale Drive; the land is currently zoned agriculutural. According to the company, the farm will consist of of 8,000 panels sized about 3′ square, and has to be finished and in production by 2017 so they can take advantage of the federal tax credits that expire at the end of 2016. They note that power will be connected to the 69 Kv line that bisects the property. The solar farm will cost $38 million facility to build. One concern is that the project only has a 25 year lifespan – it will then have to be decommissioned or repowered.
New Officers for 2016
Jacque Chatmon will be the new Chairman of the Commission, with Dixon Leatherbury as Vice Chairman.
Supervisor Granville Hogg used the public comment period to protest having his property rezoned to Agriculture, when, according Hogg, it was clearly commercial and used to be zoned as such after he requested a rezoning. However,in 2009 it was zoned back to AG. The rationale for keeping it AG was that Granville did not do anything commercial with the property after he had it rezoned to commercial (although he has a building on it and apparently uses it commercially), so the PC said he lost the right to retain commercial zoning because he did not develop it.