Villages development to get accelerated vote

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2008

COURTLAND—The Southampton County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Monday to vote on a portion of the controversial Villages of Southampton project.

During a May meeting, and following a contentious public hearing before a packed boardroom, supervisors had tabled the matter for six months.

Since then, though, County Attorney Richard E. Railey Jr. discovered that state law gives governing bodies significantly less time to take action on comprehensive plan amendments than he had originally thought.

During a session Monday that was closed to the public to allow the board to discuss potential litigation, Railey shared with supervisors the applicable state code, which states that the governing body must act on comprehensive plan amendments within 90 days of a recommendation by the Planning Commission.

Southampton’s commission voted 5-3 on April 10 to recommend denying the developer’s request to update a planning map to reflect future commercial and multifamily uses of a portion of the property at the corner of Camp Parkway and Delaware Road.

When supervisors held their own hearing on the request last month, more than 50 people turned out, with the vast majority heartily opposed to the proposal.

Following a confusing board discussion, supervisors agreed to postpone a decision on the matter for six months, to the chagrin of many who had voiced their opposition during the hearing.

County Administrator Michael Johnson said following Monday’s confidential board discussion that Railey’s discovery of the 90-day requirement means the board cannot wait much longer to make its decision regarding the Villages project.

With a state-imposed deadline of July 9, supervisors decided to vote sooner rather than later.

Johnson said the developer will be notified of the change by letter. He also stressed that the public hearing has been closed and that no more public comment will be accepted during Monday’s meeting.