A study of Northampton County’s land-use regulations recently was conducted.

By Ted Shockley


Northampton County needs to streamline its zoning and subdivision ordinances to make them “user-friendly documents,” an independent review reports.

The county also should aid agri-tourism opportunities by using its zoning regulations to increase the ability of wineries, breweries and distillers to operate there.

Those were just some of the findings by The Berkley Group, a Virginia-based local government consulting firm hired by the county to review its land-use documents.

The county spent $7,500 on the study, which was released to the public in late January.

“The decision to sanction the study was guided, in part, by the reality that there are conflicts within and between the county’s land-use tools,” according to the report.

The report found that neither the zoning or subdivision ordinance conforms to all provisions required by the state code.

It also recommended that the ordinances need updated definitions to “enhance clarity and reduce the need for interpretation.”

For example, the county has parking-lot size requirements to minimize impervious surfaces and accompanying runoff. But it doesn’t establish parking-lot size requirements for schools, which currently include some of the county’s larger areas of blacktop.

It also recommends the county “modernize its setback requirements” by creating uniform setback requirements based on different zoning districts and uses within those districts.