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York Point Rezoning: Supervisors Wiggins and Zaremba Vote Against Agricultural Rights
This is the third article in a series on the board of supervisors’ decision.
By Shelby Mertens


This week’s article on the York County Board of Supervisors’ decision to rezone the York Point neighborhood to a new R33 residential district will focus on the comments made by Chairman Don Wiggins and fellow Supervisor Walter Zaremba at the June 17 meeting. Both Wiggins and Zaremba made similar arguments in favor of the rezoning, stressing the need to keep a residential neighborhood quiet and devoid of commercial activities. Wiggins and Zaremba made up half of the vote that was in support of rezoning, with only one supervisor voting against it. It is important to note that Wiggins represents York County’s 3rd District, which includes the York Point neighborhood. The plan to rezone York Point began after residents filed a petition to Wiggins. During the board of supervisors meeting, Wiggins argued that those who live in York Point knew they would have to obtain a special-use permit in order to engage in commercial agricultural activities. "Regardless of the zoning, the people who lived in the neighborhood knew that if someone wanted to start a business there that they’d have to get a special-use permit to do it,” he said. Wiggins went on to say that the board will not grant someone a special- use permit if their neighborhood voices an opposition to the business. "In order to get a special-use permit, the people who live there would probably be the main deciding factor as to whether that person could have the business or not because for the board of supervisors, if the neighborhood shows enough opposition to it, it would not be allowed,” Wiggins said. Wiggins said the two oyster farmers, Greg Garrett and Anthony Bavuso, who applied for (and were subsequently denied) special-use permits to continue operating their oyster farms, lobbied the General Assembly to pass legislation that would protect them from county permit requirements. Wiggins was referencing Senate Bill 51, which prevents local governments from imposing regulations and requiring special- use permits for various activities at agricultural operations such as agritourism events and the preparation and sale of food otherwise complaint with state law, as well as House Bill 1089, which creates a standard definition of agricultural products and protects aquaculture as a form of agriculture. Both bills received bipartisan support from the General Assembly. SB51 was signed into law by the governor and became effective on July 1.

Supervisors image"Now what that did, that took any of the authority or any option the people that live in this community had. Took it right away from them,” Wiggins said. Wiggins closed by saying that the rezoning plan was the only option they had left. "This is your option. This is what they’ve (Garrett and Bavuso) done,” he said. "And this is what I think is the right thing for us to do, is for us to look after the people that don’t have another way to turn.” Zaremba, who represents the 1st District, said he has spent a considerable amount of time talking and listening to both sides on the issue. "I had the privilege of visiting the Bavuso household, sat in Mr. Bavuso’s kitchen, talked about this very issue almost two years ago,” Zaremba said. "I walked the streets of York Point, I banged on a lot of doors … I talked to a lot of people. I have read for two years now, everything that’s been printed, whether it’s from the county’s staff, the planning commission, emails that we’ve been privileged to receive, phone calls on occasion and so forth.” Zaremba, like the other supervisors who voted for the rezoning, said the main issue is between one’s individual liberty and the rights of the community, or how Supervisor Sheila Noll put it, the "greater good.” "As far as I’m concerned, there’s really one issue, and that is the balance between one’s use of his or her property in what ever way the individual want to use it, vis-à-vis, the quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood, which may or may not be consistent with that individual or how that individual wants to use their property,” he said. Zaremba said he would vote for the residents of York Point so they may live in a quiet neighborhood. He said quiet enjoyment of one’s property should not be destroyed when outside commercial activity "exceeds what would be reasonable.” "Tonight, after listening to the final arguments, in my opinion, the argument of unbridled use of one’s property compared to vis-à-vis the disruption of my quiet enjoyment, the quiet enjoyment is going to win out,” Zaremba said.

 





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In brief 17jul14