Northampton Supervisors table Zoning Amendments regarding compensatory non-tidal wetlands

February 15, 2023
Exmore Wetlands Bank

The Northampton County Board of Supervisors conducted a public hearing Tuesday on whether or not to amend the 2016 and 2000 Zoning Ordinances to not allow off-site compensatory  non-tidal wetlands within the County and reduce the zoning districts where wildlife/marine life preservation area use is allowed by right to the Conservation Districts and require a special use permit  for Agricultural Districts.   The Board of Supervisors also is proposing the deletion of the “wildlife impoundment ponds” use from the Agricultural Uses table.

The Northampton County Planning Commission recommended that the Board limit the  construction of non tidal compensatory wetlands to Agriculture zones requiring a major use permit to do so.

The Board is reacting to the project in progress between Exmore and Nassawadox on Rt. 13 where a non tidal agricultural area has been purchased to build compensatory wetlands to permit the construction of a project in the Tidewater area.  The state policy of no net loss of wetlands permits applicants to purchase land in other areas of the state to construct non tidal wetlands to replace those lost wetlands caused by those projects.

Northampton residents fear that without these restrictions,  land in the County will be gobbled up by off site developers and converted from productive land to non tidal wetlands.

Eastern Shore Custom Carts

After a long list of motions by the Planning Commission, chairman Sarah Morgan told the Board that due to the complexity of the issue which not only involves the County but  State and Federal issues as well.  Morgan suggested that the Board take some more time to make sure the actions taken will have a legal basis.

During the public comment segment Northampton resident John Cotlay urged the Board to proceed quickly because the use of non tidal compensatory wetlands is  by right at this time anyone could begin another project at any time.

Supervisor Betsy Mapp made a motion to table the issue until meetings with the DEQ take place at a later date.

The motion was passed unanimously.


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