The final draft of the Northampton County Comprehensive Plan was handed over from Dr. Mark Freeze, the retiring Chairman of the Planning Commission, at Tuesday night’s Board of Supervisors Meeting.
Dr. Freeze commented that the Planning Commissioners have spent over 1,000 hours working on this plan, and while he knew it wasn’t perfect, he felt it was good. In his comments, he compared Northampton County to Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. There are some places that are at all time highs, like Cape Charles, and some that are at all time lows, like Nassawadox. Responding to criticisms that the document is ‘too negative’, Dr. Freeze said the Hospital and Bayshore Concrete are no longer in the County, which cost the County $50 – $60 million in payroll. Currently, 20% of Northampton’s population lives below the poverty line.
Strong support for the existing 2009 Comprehensive plan has been vocalized by some at the public hearings. But Freeze pointed out the world has changed drastically since that plan was documented. The 2009 Comprehensive Plan placed a high concern on population density in Northampton, but when the housing bubble burst and the world’s financial markets faced a serious correction, the widespread construction of new homes in the County stopped. In addition, the County’s population has been declining in every census since 1930.
According to Dr. Freeze, the goal of this document is to help all citizens in Northampton County, and he encouraged all the citizens to read every word of the Comprehensive Plan. Copies of the plan will be placed at the town offices of all the incorporated towns in the County and at the two libraries.
By Virginia law, localities must review and update their Comprehensive Plan every five years. Northampton’s has not been revised in almost ten. The Board of Supervisors will continue to make edits to the plan and will hold its next public hearing on Wednesday, October 24. Chairman Spencer Murray asked the citizens to please be respectful when submitting feedback.
In addition to Freeze, Anna Lee and Kay Downing have also announced they will be stepping down from the Planning Commission. The Board of Supervisors expressed their utmost appreciation to the retiring commissioners for their service.