Roughly 70 people showed up to Tuesday night’s Northampton County Planning District Commission meeting for the Public Hearing of the revision of the Comprehensive Plan at the Northampton Middle School in Machipongo. The current Comprehensive Plan was passed in 2009 and Virginia by law requires localities to update their plan every five years.
In total twenty one people spoke or submitted comments at the public hearing, with eighteen opposing the updated plan in favor of the 2009 plan. While the stated reasons varied, the overall theme of those against the updated plan was the current plan, unlike the 2009 plan, excluded the public from the revision process. Other criticisms claimed the plan fails to protect the rural nature of the county and the county’s natural resources, that it would lead to too much development and that it doesn’t address the need for affordable housing. It was also charged that the plan’s main source of information was a 2012 telephone survey paid for by the Eastern Shore Realtors Association.
Bernie Herman, who opposed the revision, asked the supervisors a different question:
Of the three that spoke in favor, one was a statement read into the record by the Planning Commission itself. Dr. Mark Freeze, Chairman of the Commission, where he listed more than 125 organizations and several citizens that were consulted in the revision.
Calvin Hagan said he came into the meeting in favor of the revision, but after hearing all the criticisms felt the document needs a little work:
The Planning Commission will now take the public comments into account before making revisions and submitting their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.