After Building and Zoning director David Fluhart ruled in July that the Countys current zoning ordinances prohibited the construction of sewage treatment plants in agriculturally zoned areas, the developer proposed a change in the language of the ordinance that would permit that to occur.
Attorney for the developer Mark Baumgardner told the commission that in his opinion, Accomack's zoning ordinance did not conform to state requirements that allow private sewage treatment plants on ag zoned land and when there is such a conflict, state law trumps local ordinances.
Many residents of the Atlantic area have objected on the grounds that developers should not be able propose a change in the language of any valid comprehensive plan. County attorney Mark Taylor said there is precedent in the county to provide language to allow a conditional use permit by right. It is not new to the county or to Virginia law. Its more of a process.
The commissioners discussed the possibility that the plant itself could be located within the planned unit development in which case only treated effluent would be sent to the Nocks Landing area.
Concerns were raised that a strong hurricane or equipment failure could result in untreated sewage being spilled into the Nocks Landing area.
Speaking for the developer Baumgardner stated that the proposed sewage treatment plant was designed to allow the county to use part of its capacity in the future if that became necessary. The proposed capacity is one million five hundred thousand gallons daily. If the plant itself were located at the development it would only be able to process seven hundred fifty thousand gallons per day which would be adequate for the Atlantic Town Center but not provide the capacity for county use in the future.
Several area residents spoke during the public comment part of the meeting. All who spoke were opposed to any effluent treated or untreated being deposited at the Nock's Landing site.
The Planning Commission decided to table the change in language to give the staff time to research the issue and provide more information. They decided to conduct a public hearing on the language change and the conditional use permit for the sewage plant on January 11 at a site to be determined.