Northampton Supervisors ask Planning Commission to look at density regulations in certain areas

May 15, 2024

The Northampton Board of Supervisors approved a motion to ask the Planning Commission to look at the potential of easing density requirements in Rural Village Residential and Town Edge zoning areas.

The motion was made following a presentation by Jon Dempster, a member of the Northampton County Industrial Development Authority(IDA) and owner operator of The Shanty, Deadrise Pies and Brown Dog Ice Cream.

Dempster said Northampton’s current housing crisis was scaring away multi generation heritage families, because there were few options for affordable houses to buy or rent in neighborhoods safe for family’s with kids.

“Several income demographics need help,” said Dempster. “We need to talk about density, which is a sore subject for some.”

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Following a meeting with contractors and local officials, Dempster said the issue with building new affordable homes is simply the projects aren’t profitable without the ability to share infrastructure costs.

“I’m not thrilled with 30 new homes in my neighborhood,” said Dempster, referring to the new construction taking place in Tower Hill, “but Virginia Builders wants to build affordable housing if they can share infrastructure.”

Virginia Builders Homes
Examples of houses Virginia Builders constructs for affordable housing units. Picture’s from Dempster’s presentation.

Dempster asked the Board to identify Rural Village Residential areas with close proximity to fire stations and ease density restrictions to allow two units for every 20,000 square feet and five dwelling units per acre in Town Edge.

Supervisor John Coker commented there were plenty of lots in Cheriton suitable for development, but the town lacked infrastructure, such as sewer and water.

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“If we can get sewer and water in Cheriton, it would be a piece of cake.

Two citizens spoke regarding the matter during public comment period, Ken Dufty of Exmore and Donna Bozza of Silver Beach. Bozza, speaking for herself as a private citizen, applauded Dempster’s presentation but cautioned the board to think it through to minimize unintended consequences.

Coker made the motion, which was seconded by Supervisor Ernest Smith and passed unanimously.

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