Alternates may be added to Board of Zoning Appeals

Published 11:19 am Monday, August 22, 2011

COURTLAND—In hopes of avoiding a repeat of the Aug. 15 Southampton County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, the Board of Supervisors on Monday agreed to add three alternates to the board.

A public hearing to change the ordinance so the alternates can be added will be held during the Board of Supervisors’ 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, meeting at the Government Center in Courtland.

An Aug. 15 public hearing to allow military dog training on nine Southampton County properties was postponed to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, when the seven-member board did not get a quorum — a majority of its members for making a decision.

Many of the more than 100 people attending the standing-room-only hearing for American K-9 Interdiction in Walters were upset.

“I was here and embarrassed because they couldn’t do what needed taken care of,” said Dallas Jones, chairman for the Board of Supervisors. “Alternates would be a good idea.”

The hearing was postponed when members Marie Sykes and Doug Chesson failed to show. Member James Bradshaw excused himself due to a conflict of interest. Bradshaw owns a Delaware Road property that’s next to one of the properties in question and is opposed to the training.

The fourth member, David Holland, could not participate because it was learned earlier that day he needed to be sworn in.

While reviewing the current ordinance, Supervisor Carl Faison noted there is no requirement that Board of Zoning Appeals members must be sworn in. Supervisors agreed to include the requirement in the revamped ordinance.

American K9 Interdiction began training dogs in the county in February. Residents reported homes and windows shaking from what sounded like machine gunfire and mortars going off.

When a resident reported the training to county officials, the company was given 10 days to stop. Military dog training is not permitted in the county, but can be granted through a temporary special-use exception by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Paul Roushia, co-owner of American K-9 Interdiction, said his company has done similar training in Isle of Wight County, Suffolk, Newport News, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Permission was not needed.

The properties the company would like to use include:

• The former Boykins Elementary School at 17219 Pittman Road, owned by the county

• Ivor Elementary School at 7486 Proctor’s Bridge Road, also owned by the county

• Parcels on Melon Field and Three Bees roads in Newsoms, both owned by Denise and J.C. Bunn III.

• Parcels on Odom Chapel Road, East Depot Street and south of General Thomas Highway west of Cypress Bridge Road, all in Newsoms, belonging to the Joan Bunn Life Estate

• Property on Crossroads Drive near Franklin, owned by Green Waste Recycling

• Property at 36465 General Mahone Boulevard owned by Charles and Kathleen Clark in the Berlin-Ivor area.