NORTHAMPTON: Cedar Grove rezoning recommended by planners


BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —

The Northampton Planning Commission on Tuesday, March 19, voted 4-3 to send a rezoning application for property in Cedar Grove to county supervisors for their review and possible approval.

A Virginia Beach restaurant owner, Dmitri Hionis, applied to rezone a total of about six acres in Cedar Grove, on the east side of U.S. Route 13 in lower Northampton County.

A mobile home park of about three acres and almost three acres of farmland zoned agricultural-rural business were to be rezoned to a hamlet, a small, residential area.

The intended purpose of the rezoning was to permit the construction of about 10 single-family dwellings that could serve as workforce housing.
The planning commission recommended rezoning the mobile home park but not the farmland.

However, Northampton supervisors may choose to approve or reject the rezoning of one or both parcels as they see fit.

During a public hearing on the matter, the majority of speakers opposed the project.

Ken Dufty said that Northampton’s comprehensive plan supports the preservation of farmland and it is “absolutely forbidden” to develop land that lacks access to public services.

Kelley Parks noted that the comprehensive plan defines a hamlet as an existing settlement and does not permit a hamlet to be created or expanded.

Denise Lewis reminded planning commissioners that to clear the way for the new development, the four remaining units in the mobile home park will be removed and the families living there will be “out on the street.”

“This is probably going to be workforce housing … for people from Virginia Beach to move over here and work over there,” Lewis said.

Jason Hahn supported the project and criticized the comprehensive plan. “We need houses. We need jobs. This is bigger than the comprehensive plan.
… The comprehensive plan was written by people who just don’t want things built,” he said.

Commissioner Glen Anders noted that Northampton’s future land use map shows Cedar Grove is a hamlet.

He said that rezoning land within Cedar Grove would not be creating a hamlet but allowing infill development in the existing hamlet.

Commissioner Janet Sturgis said the project is consistent with the comprehensive plan and “the best way to preserve agricultural lands is not cutting them up in 20-acre mini estates but to build out residential areas where you already have residential areas.”

She said the mobile home park is “not sustainable in its current condition.”

Asking the developer to replace the mobile homes and upgrade the well and septic service “for what they can get (from) that demographic in rent” is not feasible, Sturgis said.

Commissioner Andre Wiggins disapproved of the project because the developer did not agree to any proffers — legally binding conditions on how the property can be used – and there was no guarantee that the homes to be built will be affordable.

Furthermore, “‘Is it appropriate to expand density in a rural area?’ is one of the fundamental questions,” Wiggins said. “According to the comp plan, it’s not.”

The motion to forward the matter to county supervisors passed, with Commissioners Anders, Sturgis, J.T. Holland, and O. Patrick Rader voting “yes,” and Commissioners Wiggins, Stephanie Castro-Webber, and Chair Sarah Morgan voting “no.”

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