HEATHSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Northumberland County has drastically tightened development restrictions on a large piece of waterfront property that a state Girl Scout group wants to sell.
The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to tighten subdivision restrictions to allow the 387-acre Camp Kittamaqund to be divided into 20 lots without a zoning change, instead of the 210 lots that previously could have been carved from it.
The property on the Great Wicomico River is zoned for conservation.
Thursday night’s vote sets up a showdown between the county board and the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council of Virginia. The council had hinted that it might sue if the county took action to reduce the land’s market value.
The measure’s supporters praised the board, and a trio of landowners have offered to place about 2,000 acres on the Coan River in the conservation zone to guard it from development.
“This is amazing,” Ann Jennings, head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation environmental group’s office in Richmond, said after the meeting. “This gives you hope we really are going to restore the Bay.”
Supervisors discovered the limitations of their conservation-zoning rules after news that the Girl Scout council wanted to sell the camp was revealed late last year.
Thursday night’s amendment affects all land zoned for conservation, which amounts to about 2 percent of the county.
The amendment limits the subdivision of conservation-zoned parcels to one lot that must equal 50 percent of the parent parcel. The balance of the tract can be cut into lots no smaller than 10 acres each.
“Don’t stop there,” resident Tommy Tomlin said.
He and other speakers said the county should tighten all its land-use controls to protect farmland, open spaces and water quality.
“You ought to be jealously preserving it,” resident Lee Allain said of the county’s rural landscape.
No one spoke against tightening restrictions on conservation-zoned land.
The Girl Scout council, which has headquarters in Mechanicsville, has said on its Web site, www.comgirlscouts.org, that it has received a $16 million offer for the camp. The camp contains more than 3 miles of waterfront on the Great Wicomico River.
Word of the possible sale has stirred a small rebellion among Girl Scout leaders and members who say they never were asked whether they wanted to give up the camp.
Several council board members met with rank-and-file Scout leaders on the matter for the first time last weekend in a closed-door meeting.
In statements on the council’s Web site, Girl Scout officials have said hurricane and storm damage the past two years have made the property too expensive to maintain.
But one scout leader who recently walked the property, Tiffany Sherman of Hanover County, has sent e-mail messages to Scout leaders disputing that claim.
“I feel now that I was misled and misinformed as to the state of disrepair at Camp Kitty,” Miss Sherman said.