At Tuesday night’s Northampton Board of Supervisors meeting, District 1 Supervisor Mr. Granville Hogg made a motion for County Attorney Bruce Jones to be directed to file a writ of Centiorari for the circuit court to review the recent decision by the Board of Zoning Appeals regarding the approval of an “oyster watch house” at Salt Grove. The motion did not receive a second, and failed.
According to Hogg, the decision by the BZA is an attempt “rewrite the history of the Eastern Shore all in the guise of economic development. In this case the BZA desires to rewrite the historical and local definition of an oyster watch house”.
Hogg argues that rather than calling the proposed land-use what it really is, the BZA wishes to label the land use as something that it does not conform to. Northampton County “has a comprehensive land-use plan and the zoning ordinance and has a process for amending the zoning ordinance in order to accommodate such use if the citizens desire such use within Northampton County.”
A major violation, according to Hogg was that the applicant employed an architect to describe the “net useable area” of the structure, which is significantly less than the overall square footage of the exterior dimensions of the structure. By limiting the square footage,which includes the outdoor porch and patio, the BZA was able to say that the structure complies with the maximum allowable for an oyster watch house.
In Northampton, the assessment prepared by the county appraiser in The Commissioner of the Revenues office does not appraise structures by “net useable area”. Hogg complains that the Board of Zoning Appeals disregarded the methodology used historically for assessing the property of all the other taxpayers only to accommodate this particular application.
Using aerial photographs on the county tax map, Hogg points out that the applicant has no oyster ground leases in the area, so why the need for a watch house?
“It is our obligation to maintain the intent of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the Zoning Ordinance. Given the facts it is appropriate for the decision to be reviewed by the circuit court judge,” Hogg said.