Northampton Board directs Planning Commission to review sections on high density housing

November 24, 2021

Northampton County will be reviewing the sections of the 2009 Zoning Ordinance pertaining to high density and work force housing following action by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday evening.

Supervisor Dixon Leatherbury brought up a recent article from Stacker Online which listed Northampton as the 18th best County in the Commonwealth of Virginia to retire.

The article looked at population, median home values, median rent, median income, home value as a percentage of income and rentals as a percentage of income of the Counties reviewed. Northampton’s numbers were mostly in the middle of the pack, except for the percent of residents who rent(35%), which was third, and the rents as a percentage of income(1.76%), which was tied with Westmoreland for highest.

“The data presented shows empirically what we already knew intuitively—we have a real housing issue,” said Leatherbury.

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Leatherbury said a complete comprehensive review of the 2009 Zoning Ordinance would take 24-36 months, and he said he didn’t think the County could wait that long to take action.

“I would propose that we carve out zoning code review as it relates to workforce housing and request that the Planning Commission begin working immediately on housing, including mobile homes, mobile home parks, higher density in appropriate areas, mixed uses in Town Edge, and other suggestions as they deem necessary,” he said in prepared remarks.

Supervisor Oliver Bennett said a lot of the young teachers he spoke to wanted to live in Cape Charles.

“That’s good, but Cape Charles costs,” he said. “You’re not going to find something to rent in Cape Charles for $600-$700 a month.”

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Leatherbury added he felt young people generally wanted to live in more developed settings. While he preferred to be in the country, young adults want to see people and have things to do.

“With septic coming to Exmore and Nassawadox, that will help keep sewage costs down,” said Leatherbury.

A motion was passed unanimously to ask the Planning Commission to dive into the zoning ordinance and iron out language to allow for development in areas desired in the recently approved Comprehensive Plan.

Supervisor Bennett concluded the discussion saying “I think this is a good idea.”

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