Chincoteague zoning change proposal dies after protests

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (Delmarva Now) -- A proposal to place additional requirements on some types of development on Chincoteague did not advance, after a motion made by a councilman failed to get a second at Monday's town council meeting.

The council asked Chincoteague's planning commission earlier this year to look into making changes to the zoning ordinance that would require developers to get a conditional use permit for certain types of higher density buildings — including town houses, hotels, mobile home parks and campgrounds, among other uses — in some districts.

After holding a public hearing, planners voted to send the changes to the town council for another public hearing and potential adoption.

Speakers at Monday's hearing included representatives of the business community who voiced concerns about the proposed changes.

"We pay our taxes and I really don't see how you can tell someone who owns property what they can, within reason, and can't do," said David Cole, Tom's Cove Campground manager, who said he spoke on behalf of the owners.

Other speakers echoed concerns about infringing on property owners' rights.

"I don't think we need the change. ... You're taking my property rights ... I'm being pushed," said Eddie Tull, noting he has sold more than 700 lots on the island.

Matthew Reed said his business already faces "hoops and hoops and hoops that we have to jump through as contractors on this island."

"It feels like you're taking our rights as landowners," he said.

Council members Jim Frese and Gene W. Taylor spoke against adding the permit requirement.

"I'm dead set against it," said Frese.

Taylor said, "I did not run for town council to take people's property rights away."

Vice Mayor Denise Bowden said she had made a promise to listen to residents — "and I've listened," she said, noting of 11 speakers at the hearing, eight were against the zoning change.

Bowden noted it was she who asked to have the planning department look into the matter. The request came after a site plan for a new hotel was submitted in late April for the former Landmark Plaza property near the entrance to Chincoteague.

The property has been the subject of speculation about its possible reuse since it was sold in 2004.

The property includes parcels owned by Chincoteague Landmark LLC, with a Berlin address, according to Accomack County records. A Bluewater Development Corporation officer in May said it is in the portfolio of properties of the Maryland company, founded by Jack Burbage in 2002.

The applicant for the building permit for a new hotel on the property has placed the application on hold, according to Town Manager Jim West.

"I thought they came up with a really good plan. ... In my opinion, it wasn't taking away anybody's rights to do anything," Bowden said.

Bowden thanked the planning commission for its work on the ordinance.

She said she has mixed feelings about the matter.

"The last thing I want to see is another hotel down at Captain Bob's or over on the Landmark property" or on the east side of the island," she said.

Still, she said, "Majority rules."

Councilman Ben Ellis, who serves as the town council's representative on the planning commission, made the motion to approve the zoning changes, but the motion failed to get a second, meaning the ordinance remains as is.

Delmarva Now


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