Onancock Town Council Debates Subdivisions, Approves Homestay Business

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Town of Onancock welcome sign. Photo by Carol Vaughn.

By Carol Vaughn —

The Onancock town council approved a special use permit for a homestay business at 37 King Street. Applicants Will and Lynn Flynn have an option to purchase the property.
No more than six guests will be allowed at one time and guests must use off-street parking, according to conditions the council approved with the permit.
The property was operated in the past as a bed-and-breakfast inn.
The town’s homestay policy limits guest to stays of three weeks or less, according to Town Manager Matt Spuck.
The council voted to codify the town’s ordinances. Onancock contracted with Municipal Code Corporation to do quarterly updates of the town code, which will be on the town website and will be searchable and more user friendly, according to Spuck.
Subdivisions Discussed
Roads approved decades ago in connection with a subdivision at the old carnival grounds property do not have to meet current highway department width standards but any repairs or repaving done will meet current standards, according to Spuck.
Councilwoman Maphis Oswald said she is concerned about “how this information about this development” is being shared with residents.
“When a property is purchased, and a big tract like this, we should have something in place to let people know what’s going on,” Oswald said.
Sandra Sharon, who said she is building a residence on Jefferson St., agreed with Oswald.
Mayor Fletcher Fosque said, “We’re not trying to hide anything from anybody. We were trying to follow the law. … To be honest with you, if they hadn’t deeded the property to the town in the back area, we wouldn’t have been notified about anything because they bought existing lots, and according to the law, they don’t need anything from the town to build on an existing lot.”
The property was subdivided in the 1950s and zoning was changed in 2007, Fosque said.
The land at the rear of the property donated to the town had no conditions placed on the gift, he said.
“I have a problem with procedure. … I did not know that there was going to be no information given to the council as to what this development is going to look like. I thought that we were going through the normal subdivision kind of process with this,” including neighbors being informed and a public hearing, Oswald said.
Fosque noted another area north of Kerr Street also was subdivided years ago. “So if somebody comes and bought all those lots and wanted to build, we would not have any control over that — it has already been subdivided.”
Oswald said, “I would hope that council will take this under advisement and look to the future. … There are several large tracts of land available for sale in this town and if we have something in place so that neighbors are informed, then I think it would be a good idea — that’s all.”
Fosque agreed, but said most remaining large tracts are not subdivided and so would fall under notification and public hearing requirements if the owner wants to subdivide them.
Councilman Bob Bloxom noted the council would have significant input into that process.
Still, owners who meet the requirements and subdivide their property can “sit on it for years and years,” Fosque said.
Wastewater Treatment Facility — Negotiations with HRSD
Bloxom said the first draft of a contract with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District was reviewed by the town HRSD contract negotiations committee. The committee’s comments were passed on to the law firm representing the town.
Spuck was scheduled to meet with the attorney this week and asked the attorney to give HRSD a response to the draft by Feb. 1.
Transfer of the town’s wastewater treatment facility to HRSD is part of a regional sewer plan that also includes HRSD building a sewer line.
HRSD is willing to invest nearly $25 million in sewer system infrastructure on the Eastern Shore, starting with a force main from Nassawadox to Onancock.
The Onancock plant would process sewage collected by the main pipeline.
Customers would pay monthly rates set by HRSD.
Spuck also met recently with HRSD’s billing company about potentially transferring the town water and sewer billing.
Electricians and engineers from HRSD are scheduled to visit the Onancock plant for a full asset review Friday, Jan. 29.
New Businesses
Spuck in his town manager’s report named new businesses that recently applied for business licenses in town, including Magpie’s Garden, a florist on North and King Streets; Nemo’s, a hotdog stand outside OBS; 11:11 Spa at the Historic Onancock School; and three homebased businesses — Pen and Sword Marketing; Beyond Numbers Consulting; and Reid’s Cleaning.
“I love hearing that we are starting to attract businesses to town. I know we’ve got a lot of work to do but that’s going to be really exciting. I think if we make a great town to live, businesses are going to follow,” Spuck said.
The town office remains closed to the public due to COVID-19 and inability to manage public access and maintain social distancing in the entry way.