When it met Thursday night, Northumberland County’s planning commission hadn’t much choice about recommending a change in the county ordinance regarding the harvest or production of aquacultural products in agricultural zones. A change in state law required it.
Under the current ordinance harvesting or producing aquacultural products in an A-1 zone is allowed only with a conditional use permit. The new state law that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015 mandates “A zoning ordinance shall not require that a special exception or special use permit be obtained for any production of agriculture or silviculture activity in an area that is zoned as an agricultural district or classification.” The new statute included aquacultural production in the definition of agricultural and silvicultural pursuits.
Assistant County Administrator Luttrell Tadlock said that fish farming would be considered “production” but preparing the fish for market would be “processing” and is not affected by the change in the law.
Some citizens at the meeting wanted to be assured that the change in the ordinance wouldn’t impact residential zones, Tadlock said. They were reassured that it wouldn’t.
Tadlock noted that on Aug. 28 there will be an “open house” at the elementary school at which FEMA will display its new flood hazard area maps for the county. Some properties in the county will have been reclassified, Tadlock said.
The meeting will run from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.