New food truck parks in Burgess; short term rental permit process slowly moving forward

Jackie Nunnery

by Jackie Nunnery

HEATHSVILLE—With the approval of a conditional use permit (CUP) from the Northumberland board of supervisors on Thursday, July 13, Brandon Webb will have a Burgess location for his Cajun Carryout food truck.

Webb requested the CUP for an agriculture parcel at 15531 Northumberland Highway owned by Steven W. Jett. His intention is to establish a more permanent parking site for his food truck with picnic tables and restrooms. Conditions placed on the project included non-reflective, downward directed lighting and signage that conforms with the zoning ordinance.

If there are more customers in the future, he would consider buying a building, but “right now, it’s just a food truck,” he said.

During the hearing, Dawn Rowland said she supported the idea of another restaurant option in the area. Susan Carroll said she had already tried Webb’s food and supported him. There were no objections. The board voted 4-0 to approve the permit. Richard Haynie, Thomas Tomlin, James Brann and James Long voted in favor. Ronald Jett was absent.

Short-term rentals

A marathon session of six public hearings for CUPs to operate vacation homes in the residential restricted zone (R3) resulted in two approvals, while the rest were carried over until the August 10 meeting. Familiar objections were voiced by members of Chesapeake Beach and Fleeton Beach—community amenities being used by renters, noise, litter, parking on the street and trespassing—with many asking that the board deny all CUPs. Objections also were raised that rentals continued after supervisors voted in May to require CUPs in R3.

There were residents like Cheryl Johnson of Reedville who were in favor of the permits. “Years ago we were faced with the realities of potential inverse condemnation lawsuits where instead of collecting taxes from the owners, the county would end up paying them a penalty. If the conditions that the county sets are made, then approval should follow.” Maurice Johnson, also of Reedville, said denying STRs takes away taxable dollars and pointed out that there is recourse if things go wrong. “The permit can be pulled,” he said.

Chesapeake Beach resident Paul Poyant said he had “not run into the situations with (short-term rentals) that people have complained about, but I have seen problems with just the weekenders that come down and have no consideration for the people that live there. To me, it’s a lot of bullying by the civic club, which makes their own rules. You should allow it. They’re not hurting anybody.”

One of the applicants, Andrea Khoury at 134 Beach Road in Chesapeake Beach Estates, said she purchased in Northumberland County because of the “strong property rights. I called the county prior to buying and cleared everything.” She added that she had been operating short-term rentals for almost three years without any complaints from her neighbors. “I operate STRs in Irvington and they have guidelines. Give me some rules and I am willing to follow them. I was told I would be grandfathered in. I’m doing all the right things. I’m happy to comply.”

Proposed conditions include one off-street parking space for each bedroom and no on-street parking, STR registration, a local manager with authority and ability to correct any violations of the conditions, clearly marked boundary lines, annual inspections by a building official and overnight occupancy limited to two persons per bedroom plus two additional persons per residence. The CUP would be non-transferable and does not attach to the property if ownership changes.

The board voted 4-0 to carry over a vote on Khoury’s request until she can provide the conditions required by the Town of Irvington.

Applicant Laura McMillian at 159 Harbor Road, Chesapeake Beach Estates, noted that many of the behaviors attributed to renters could also be applied to residents. She said she had tried working with the civic club but “they sent me an agreement that if I paid $6,000, they would let my guests go on the beach, but I’m not making that kind of money off the house.”

The board voted 4-0 to carry over a vote on her request as well as John Forster’s, 117 Beach Road in Chesapeake Beach Estates, and Jon and Pamela Woodrum’s, 204 Chesapeake Street in Fleeton Beach.

In two 4-0 votes, the board approved with conditions two properties, 98 and 112 Martin Lane, owned by David Sloop and Chris Geisler in Chesapeake Beach Estates. Geisler said they had come to an agreement with the civic club, removing the community amenities and golf cart from the advertisement and added an insurance rider as requested. He added that he had not received any complaints.