By Stefanie Jackson – Eastville property owners publicly aired grievances with the Northampton school board on June 23 concerning Northampton High School and its impacts on adjacent land, with one citizen warning the school board that legal action would be pursued if the issues brought forth were not addressed.
Northampton High School is on an approximately 20-acre parcel in Eastville, and its parking lot occupies an adjacent parcel of about 10 acres.
The Northampton school board also owns five lots of about one acre each next to the high school parking lot.
These small lots are part of the Selma Farm subdivision, named after the historic plantation house that was built on the land around 1785 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
The Northampton school board acquired the Selma Farm lots in 2021 by deed of gift from the Northampton board of supervisors, which had purchased the land in 2010 for future school needs.
The deed of gift was made and delivered to the school board in 2014, but due to an oversight, the deed did not become a part of Northampton County’s official court records until 2021.
Grover Hill, who owns lots adjacent to the school board’s five Selma Farm lots, raised concerns during the public comment period of the June 23 school board meeting.
He and his wife bought their historic Selma Farm home 11 years ago, along with the additional lots adjacent to the school board-owned lots.
A homeowners association document stated Hill’s new property was part of a residential area, but “obviously, that information was wrong, because the school expanded into Lots 6 through 10,” he said.
Hill reported hearing about plans for the high school property to expand also onto Lots 3, 4, 11, and 12; two for geothermal wells and two for tennis courts.
However, plans he obtained from the Northampton County planning and zoning office showed the wells on Lots 9 and 10 and the tennis courts on Lot 6.
Furthermore, Superintendent Eddie Lawrence had said there would be no access to the school property from nearby Jan Hall Road, but the plan indicated otherwise, Hill contended.
He had photos of soccer goals overturned in the easement and displayed a torn piece of soccer net he found on his property, dubbing it trash.
Hill said he and his neighbors are entitled to know how all the lots will be used. He asked to be included in meetings about the upcoming school improvements and requested a privacy hedge along the property line.
Granville Hogg, who owns land bordering Lot 10, one of the possible locations for the high school’s geothermal wells, also voiced concern.
He said that three minutes, the amount of time allotted to each speaker during a public comment period, was insufficient to address his concerns, and he welcomed an invitation to a separate meeting on the matter.
“If you decide not to hear my concerns,” he told the school board, “the next thing will be potential legal challenge, so let’s turn around and work together instead of against one another.”
Hogg said that when he was a member of the Northampton board of supervisors, he made many concessions for Lots 6 through 10 to be incorporated into the county instead of being a part of the town of Eastville.
He also was concerned that the lots belonged to a residential area.
“There are restrictive covenants that cover these properties, and … you may have to abide by them,” Hogg told the school board.
“I’m sure that if we take it to the letter of the law, it will be more expensive for the taxpayers of Northampton County,” he said.
Chair Charlena Jones told both speakers that the superintendent would contact them to discuss their concerns.