Strawberry Street Corridor Project and Former Northampton Hotel OK’d by Harbor Review Board

Front porch has been removed from old Northampton Hotel. (Wave photo)

Front porch has been removed from old Northampton Hotel. (Wave photo)

By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave

April 27, 2015

The Cape Charles Harbor Area Review Board reviewed two high profile projects April 20 — the former Northampton Hotel at 1 Mason Avenue, and Patrick Hand’s Strawberry Street Corridor project. Both projects mean a lot to the rehabilitation and restoration of the Mason Street business district as well as to the overall historic character of Cape Charles itself.

Mr. Hand has applied for a review for new construction of  a mixed-use development consisting of 20 one-bedroom residential units above commercial units on the cleared site of the old Meatland building. On April 14 the Board of Zoning Appeals approved four variances to the application after approving a demolition permit last December.

Harbor Area Review Board Chairman Ralph Orso questioned whether the applicant would be able to honor the variances following a VDOT site line inspection. It appeared the project could lose some parking spaces, dropping total parking to 38 or 39 spaces, while 40 spaces are required for the variance. Hand assured the Board that his engineer was working on the issue, and they were confident they would be able to achieve the 40 space total required. “Even with these slight changes, besides all the parking, we are still going to be able to keep the same amount of open and green space,” Hand said.

Board member Joan Natali wanted assurance that utility wires would be buried underground. Hand pointed out in the architectural drawings that not only would the utilities be underground, but that metering equipment would also be concealed inside a room. Natali also voiced concern regarding the roofline, which guidelines require to have a differentiation in height across the façade. Hand noted that due to the design, there was going to be a series of offsets from the façade that, from a “pedestrian perspective,” would provide a good bit of noticeable change in the roofline. [Read more…]

SHORE THING: Eastville Inn Fails Again

Eastville Inn’s bumpy ride in recent years reflects the difficulty of making a living from running a restaurant on the Eastern Shore.

By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Wave Columnist

April 27, 2015

A little shy of two years ago, Eastville resident and Wave student journalist Sarah Gollibart wrote an article entitled “Eastville Inn Rises Again.” It went on to become one of the Wave’s most-read stories of the year, so I know that a lot of folks are interested in the Eastville Inn.

But after the Inn shut down again on March 24, I started wondering, just what does it take to run a successful restaurant on the lower Eastern Shore? If the Eastville Inn can’t make it, who can – and how?

The Eastville Inn is a good case study because on paper at least it has so much going for it. Start with a historic building (c.1724) in a quaint town. Add proximity to the courthouse and county seat government center. Top it off with a talented chef/owner (Brent Schmidt) who bent over backward to make his venture special and inviting.

So what went wrong? The quick response might be that Chef Schmidt’s nouvelle cuisine wasn’t the local clientele’s cup of tea – either in taste (light), portion (small), or price (high).

But wait a minute – those were some of the same causes attributed to the Eastville Inn’s failure two iterations earlier.  Following that shutdown, a local team converted the Inn’s format to kind of an upscale Exmore Diner. But that didn’t work either – the former clientele didn’t like it, and the hoped-for new customers stayed at Yuk’s.

So I’m thinking that the Eastville Inn’s woes are not of its own doing but rather reflective of the whole lower Shore. This is a tough market! Follow me up Route 13 and see what I mean. [Read more…]

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Historic District Review Board Approves Projects, Considers Paint Colors and Satellite Dishes

By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave

April 27, 2015

In 1954, the Supreme Court case of Berman v. Parker set a precedent which allowed local governments to “tear down an old building to improve a neighborhood.” This landmark case oddly led the way for the modern preservation movement.

The case was heard during the beginnings of the urban renewal movement, which sought to rehabilitate blight in America’s cities. Essentially, the ruling implied that aesthetics was enough to finally enforce a historic district’s preservation efforts. That is, a historic district could endeavor to protect historic neighborhoods based on visual importance.

From the early attempts creating historic districts, such as Charleston, Savannah, or New Orleans, several key concepts have evolved, such as to protect significant historic properties against the threat of development, to encourage development in an older area, to maintain property values, or to create a brand or image of the place.

Of course, there is the economic effect. Don Rypkema, in The Economics of Rehabilitation, states that historic reinvestment can generate tax credits and can establish a new and higher depreciation schedule, extend the property’s economic life, and achieve a better quantity, quality, and durability of the income stream. Also, it can stimulate tourism, private, increased property values, property values and sales tax, create jobs and compatible land use patterns.

On April 21, town officials in charge of this preservation effort, the Historic District Review Board, met to revisit the Certificate of Appropriateness for each of two properties, 1 Mason Avenue (The Hotel), and 205 Jefferson Avenue. [Read more…]

‘Incredible Exploits of an Effervescent Elf’ Opens May 16

Arts Enter had a pic of a cute 'Future Prima Ballerinas' rehearsing for the play 'Incredible Exploits of an Effervescent Elf''

Future prima ballerinas rehearse for “Incredible Exploits of an Effervescent Elf’.”

April 27, 2015

Arts Enter at the Historic Palace Theatre presents the newest danceable drama created by Amy Watkins and Wayne Creed and performed by the Arts Enter School of Dance and other local thespians.

Performances are Saturday, May 16, 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, 3 p.m. at Historic Palace Theatre, 305 Mason Avenue. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, and may be purchased immediately before performance at the box office. [Read more…]

LETTER: Chicken Houses Will Lower Property Values

April 27, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: Professor Art Schwarzschild submitted the following letter April 20 to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, asking that it be made public record.

Dear Members of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, Planning  Commission, and County Staff,

I would like to start this letter with an apology for the tone of my  last letter which questioned the motivations behind what I saw as the  mysterious insertion of the new zoning use, “Event Venue,” into the  revised draft zoning proposal.  That being said, I believe it is important for you to understand that  the back room procedure being used to write and repeatedly tweak the  proposed zoning changes with little to no public involvement or explanation has led many Northampton County residents to question the  motivations behind the proposed changes.

Once again, I would remind you of the comparison between the procedure used to create our current zoning code and this ongoing and confusing  process.  During the previous process the public was invited and  encouraged to attend zoning work sessions in order to help craft a new  comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance.  These public work sessions  were run by the County Planning Director and Planning Staff with  additional support from paid consultants.

Members of the PC and BOS were  in attendance at each of these meetings to witness public input.  Scientific data, Economic Reports and Case Studies were presented and used as guides to ask citizens what they wanted to see in Northampton  County and to help provide a realistic road map for us to achieve these  outcomes.

In stark contrast, I have seen no data, surveys, or case studies used to support the multitude of zoning changes being  proposed.   What’s even worse, these changes have often been presented  in a confusing and misleading manner. [Read more…]

LETTER: Lost Foreign Trade Zone Status Is Tragedy

April 27, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

On October 23, 2012, you published my commentary, Expert Warns Eastern Shore: Special Trade Zone Status Slipping Away. Now it has happened.

As Virginia political leaders decide whether President Obama deserves fast approval powers for two massive trade agreements, the entire Eastern Shore has lost a valuable global trade incentive overlaying properties at Wallops Island (Site 14), Accomack Airport (Site 15), and in Cape Charles (Site 18).

I warned your community this might happen back in 2012. Your specially designated U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone sites are gone. However, the State of Virginia continues to promote to investors and traders an incentive that no longer exists. A Northampton County economic development staffer continues to mislead inquirers that it’s simple to regain designation. It’s not. Your congressional delegation and local elected officials repeat the same misleading information. [Read more…]


ON THE TELEPHONE POLE

TUESDAY 4/28: Public Invited to CBES Annual Meeting at Little Italy

The public is invited to the annual meeting and social for Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore and Virginia’s Eastern Shorekeeper at Little Italy Restaurant in Nassawadox on Tuesday, April 28. Reservations are required for the optional dinner at 6 p.m. but not for the free program beginning at 7 p.m. The program invites the Eastern Shore community to explore  “Green is the New Gold: Ecotourism on the Shore, Protecting & Priming our Economic Engine.” [Read more…]

FRIDAY 5/1: Blues Artist Chris English at ESO Live

ESO Live! with Chris English is Friday, May 1 at 8 p.m. at ESO​ Arts Center​ on King Street in Belle Haven.  Admission $10. Doors open at 7:30; liquid refreshments are available. [Read more…]

SUNDAY 5/3: William & Mary Quartet at Franktown UMC

A concert featuring the Wren Masters from the College of William & Mary, an early music quartet playing renaissance and baroque music on period instruments, will be presented 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3, at Franktown United Methodist Church. Tickets are $20 at Rayfield’s Pharmacy. The event is sponsored by Northampton County Education Foundation.This is the first in a series of cultural enhancement and high quality arts opportunities the Foundation will be sponsoring on the Shore.   All proceeds will support scholarships, teacher grants, and special event activities in Northampton County Public Schools. Twenty-five tickets will be distributed to students involved with music programs at all four Northampton schools. [Read more…]

SUNDAY 5/3: Clam Shack Fundraiser to Combat Shore Poverty

Sunday, May 3, from 5-8 p.m. is the ESTACI Fundraiser Event at The Great Machipongo Clam Shack.  Join us for a fun evening of music, celebrity waiters, a silent auction, and fund-raising for Eastern Shore Training And Consulting, Inc. [Read more…]

MAY 30: Havana Nights Benefit at Oyster Farm at Kings Creek

Help celebrate and support the arts at the Benefit by the Bay, Arts Enter’s annual fundraiser.  “Havana Nights” will be held Saturday, May 30, at the Oyster Farm at Kings Creek. Dinner, dancing, champagne, raffle and auction. $100 limited tickets. [Read more…]


FRIDAY 5/1: How CBES Got Its Groove Back

Science and Philosophy Seminar of the Eastern Shore of Virginia will sponsor “How CBES Got Its Groove Back,”  a free 90-minute seminar, at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 1, in the Lecture Hall of the Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa. Donna Bozza will explore the journey of a grassroots organization, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, from its passionate conception to its commitment to community 27 years later. [Read more…]

SATURDAY 5/2: Bake & Bloom at Capeville UMC

The theme of this year’s Bake and Bloom is the hymn In the Garden: “I walk in the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses.” Baked Potatoes & Fixing” available for take-out or eat-in lunch. Guest Presentations & door prizes: [Read more…]

SUNDAY 5/3: Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Fundraiser for ESSO Spay Organization

Eastern Shore Spay Organization is having a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta for their spring fund raiser. Come and join us on Sunday, May 3, at Chesapeake Bay View B&B, 212 Bay Avenue in Cape Charles. It will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., so you can enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Bay. Join us for some good food, good music, and good fun. Appetizers will be served at 4 p.m., and Don Valerio will cater the dinner. There will also be two wine baskets for door prizes and a silent auction. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at the door.  Tickets are limited so please call in advance to reserve a spot. Contact Sandy Mayer at 757-331-2087 to make a reservation or visit Eastern Shore Spay Organization Inc | Don’t Litter – Spay/Neuter Now. [Read more…]

THURSDAY 5/7: National Day of Prayer

All are welcome to come and be a part of the National Day Of Prayer celebration. Join with others at Trinity United Methodist Church, corner of Plum and Tazewell, at noon on Thursday, May 7.

Publish Your Event in the Cape Charles Wave

Holding an event of interest to the general public in or near Cape Charles? Send an email to
[email protected] and your event will be listed in ON THE TELEPHONE POLE. Events will normally be publicized the same week they occur. Deadline for submission is the preceding Saturday.


County Approves Restaurants in Oyster and Kiptopeke

By WAYNE CREED
Cape Charles Wave

April 20, 2015

The Northampton Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2016 budget April 14, which included a $320,000 increase in school funding as well as a 2% cost of living increase for county workers. To accommodate these increases, staff and operations cuts have been put in motion, including the elimination of one county building inspector, and a code enforcement official reduced to part time status.

There will be a tax rate increase, but the Board kept it to less than 1 cent ($0.6805) per $100 of the assessed value for real estate. Personal property taxes (including aircraft) will be raised to $3.90 (up from $3.85) per $100 assessed value. The vote to approve the budget was 4-1, with Supervisor Oliver Bennett voting no as show of protest against cutting county jobs (just prior to an election cycle).

Although the budget approval was the most pressing part of the agenda, real estate and special use permits for several high profile projects took front and center. At the forefront were two projects by Eyre Baldwin. The first was for a Conference Center/Retreat at the barns of the historically restored Mimosa Farm. The retreat plans to have up to 10 guest rooms. The parcel is currently zoned Agricultural/Rural Business and sits on over 17 acres of land. Cela Burge of the law firm Turner and Turner, representing Baldwin, told the Board that “using the barn meets the goals of the Comp Plan, is a low-impact special use, and is a quality rural business.” She said that “we have gone as far as we can go on this project” without approval from the Health Department, but in a “chicken and egg” scenario, the Health Department would not do anything until there was an approved use for the parcel.

During public comments, Elizabeth Dodd of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce said, “This will bring vendors and business to the county . . . bringing in people from outside the county; this is an historic venue that will be perfect for hosting distinctive events.”

“There has been a crying need for a product of this nature,” added Joan Prescott of Eastville. “This is an adequate and lovely facility . . . travel and tourism will benefit from this lovely property . . . it will bring in high quality, low-impact groups.”

Carol Evans of the Chamber said, “This property has been impeccably, historically restored . . . it will add to our tax base, and is the kind of sustainable business we need in the county . . . that will respect our historic environment.”

Applicant Baldwin stated that he and his companies have been trying to bring opportunities to Northampton County, but were always being told by the county to hold off. “Over the years, we have spent $10 million to get things done here . . . and yet, we are always told to just wait, that the county is going to change the zoning. We are in such a time, we need to get things done with a ‘Yes.’ It hurts the little guy, the guy that wants to make a hustle parking cars or shucking oysters . . . it hurts local planners and photographers and musicians. How can we learn to say yes? Help me, help you save the economy.” [Read more…]

WAYNE CREED Dishes it out to Town Council (Again)

By WAYNE CREED
Wave Columnist

April 20, 2015

On this day, April 16, 2015, the Cape Charles Town Council met for its Regular Meeting, and Mayor George Proto announced it to be National Proclamation Day. Town Council then proceeded to the business of approving several new proclamations, including National Safe Boating Week Proclamation, National Police Week Proclamation, Building Safety Month Proclamation, National Public Works Week Proclamation and Municipal Clerks Week Proclamation. After each proclamation was approved, Mayor Proto read every word, every line in its entirety. If the CIA ever finds that they need a new, cutting edge torture procedure to use on terrorists, Proto may have just come across it for them. Half-way through proclamation recitations, even the most hardened individual would divulge any information just to make it stop.

This meeting was the first time new Town Manager Brent Manuel was in attendance proper; however it was Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek that did all the talking. During his report on the Cape Charles Community Trail, Panek seemed firm on following the precedent he set on previous adventures such as the overpriced and underperforming, yet exquisitely malodorous wastewater system, using a finely honed skillset of naiveté and hubris to once again drag hapless Cape Charles down the rabbit hole of benightedness.

During his report to Council, Panek informed them that the $95,000 engineering study was a teeny bit off. That is, after receiving actual bids on the work, the cost would be $350,000 more than was stated in the engineering study. There is no grant money available to make up the difference, so in typical Cape Charles fashion, the plan is to cut corners by sacrificing citizen safety. Just as the town was too cheap to place warning signs at the beach, and the lack of those signs led to the tragic drowning of a child last summer, they now plan to just use half the amount of lights to illuminate the trail at night. Of course, once someone gets raped or murdered, and the publicity might begin to affect the amount of cash being stuffed into the tourist tills, the Town will then add the additional lighting.

On the bright side, Chief Pruitt did display his new chest video camera, so I guess we can all sleep well knowing that bit of technology is now in place.

As a note, the firm that produced the engineering study for the trail (handpicked by Panek and Co.) is the same one the town used to design our magnificent series of Finger Lakes (Lake Cape Charles) that surround Central Park. A question still lurking: while the Mayor was handing out all these proclamations, where’s the one for National Ineptitude Day or National Lack of Due Diligence Day? [Read more…]

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LETTER: Renata Sheppard Previews Art Events

April 20, 2015

DEAR EDITOR,

It was such an adventure to be involved in the Harbor for the Arts Our Town grant project and be a part of the Harbor for the Arts Festival in 2013 and 2014. I am writing to share a few thoughts about working together building on the momentum of the Harbor for the Arts Our Town grant (the National Endowment for the Arts grant that brought you Experimental Film Virginia, Harbor for the Arts Festival, Art Walk and the Cape Charles by the Bay website in 2012-2014).

The Harbor for the Arts “branding” for Cape Charles, proposed and launched by the Our Town grant, is now in our collective hands. The goal of this branding, among other things, is to boost tourism, identity, and culture, and to position Cape Charles as a prime cultural tourism destination spot with the arts at the core of entertainment, events, and programming that will attract audiences near and far and nurture local community.

The core team included Arts Enter as lead applicant, Cape Charles Business Association, Citizens For Central Park, and the Town of Cape Charles; the proposed agenda included the Art Walk, the Cape Charles tourism website, and Harbor for the Arts Festival. Now that the grant period is over, these projects will live on independently and strive to bring back the events you loved last summer!

Experimental Film Virginia grew out of the Harbor for the Arts Festival as a way to bring it all together and produce a tangible artifact (the films) that could preserve and share the beauty of Cape Charles within and beyond our town as well as involving the community in the making of these films. It is an ideal creative-placemaking project and quickly became the core program of the Harbor for the Arts Festival in 2013 and 2014 while I was working with Arts Enter.

This year, Experimental Film Virginia is on its own and the Harbor for the Arts Festival remains an Arts Enter event. Experimental Film Virginia happens this July 1-12 with events that bring national and international artists for a two-week residency to create Art in a Barn, Films, and Bayamo After Party. The Harbor for the Arts Festival will return in August. [Read more…]