A plan to build tourist cottages in the woods along the edge of a field in lower Northampton County was nixed Tuesday night by the Board of Supervisors.
Angelo Manuel, a developer in the Tidewater area, was the interested party.
Manuel’s plan originally included 12 tourist cottages, he described as ‘tiny homes’, along with a single family dwelling unit he planned to live in on a 48 acre farm near Cedar Grove in Capeville.
The Northampton Planning Commission voted 6-1 against approval of the original plan.
Manuel was represented by Real Estate Broker Bill Parr at the meeting. During his presentation, Parr said Manuel had agreed to proffers which would reduce the number of tourist cottages from 12 to six, and the size of the cottages would be reduced from 640 to 490 square feet each and he would be sure the homes were screened by vegetation from view. The hope was proximity to Cape Charles, the various public parks in the area and the Bike Trail, which runs along the farm’s western edge, would be attractive to tourists.
Eight total individuals spoke against the proposal, each raising numerous issues from density regulations, to safety, agriculture and setting a dangerous precedent for future development in Northampton County.
“This proposal is a threat to our Comprehensive Plan and Zoning ordinances,” said CBES President Arthur Upshur.
Chris Wilson of Eastville, whose wife circulated a petition that garnered over 400 signatures against the project, said he worried agricultural infrastructure and activities on the farm would be hazardous to vacationers using the cottages.
“I have never been up here to complain about something, until now,” Wilson added.
In the end, the Supervisors seemed to worry the tourist cottages qualified as dwellings, which under the current zoning ordinance, are limited to one per 20 acres on agricultural forest zoned land.
“The language is from 2009 and is quite frankly out dated,” said Supervisor Dixon Leathebury. “We have homework to do.”
Supervisor John Coker moved to decline the special use permit and it was unanimously approved.
Following the vote, Supervisor Oliver Bennett apologized to Manuel.
“I hope you haven’t spent a large amount of money,” said Bennett. “We were in favor of your plan at the start, I hope we didn’t put you in a bad financial situation.”