Historic Review Board Rejects Apartments in Old School

Cape Charles Wave

July 18, 2012

The Historic District Review Board yesterday recommended unanimously against permitting a 17-unit apartment building next to Central Park.

“Converting the old school to apartments is not an appropriate use of the building,” the Board ruled.

Chairman Russ Dunton reminded the Board that Town Council is not required to adhere to the Historic District Review Board’s decision. But, Dunton stressed, the Board should nevertheless tell Town Council exactly what they think on the subject.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on the park,” Dunton noted. “If apartments are put there, the basketball court goes away and the parking for the playground goes away.”

Board member Dianne Davis asked what would happen to the basketball court, to which Town Manager Heather Arcos stated, “It could be relocated.”

However, the contract signed with the developer does not include relocating the basketball court.

Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek said that because no site plans have yet been drawn for the school, there is nothing for the Historic District Review Board to consider in regard to changes to the building. The only issue under consideration by the Board yesterday was the conditional use of the building as an apartment house.

The Board will also be asked to review plans for restoration of the building, assuming plans are eventually drawn. Such plans will also require approval by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, if the building is to qualify for federal and state historic tax credits.

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Council Holding Secret Meeting to Buy Bank(?) Building

Bank of America building is for sale cheap — will the Town buy it?

Cape Charles Wave

July 18, 2012

Town Council has announced another “executive” session for tomorrow – meaning that the public is not invited.

According to records posted by the Town Clerk, this makes a dozen closed meetings so far this year.

By comparison, Town Council held 11 executive sessions during the whole of last year, and only 6 executive sessions in 2010.

The State of Virginia has strict rules about public bodies holding closed meetings. Under law, these closed meetings cannot be “secret” – the public must be informed when the meeting will take place and what specific subject will be discussed. “A general reference to . . . the subject matter of the closed meeting shall not be sufficient to satisfy the requirements for holding a closed meeting,” according to the Code.

In the case of Cape Charles, the closed meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19, and the subject will be “Real Estate Acquisition Opportunity.”

This makes the third closed meeting this month with that subject – the earlier meetings being July 12 and July 3.

But Town Council has been meeting behind closed doors about a “real estate acquisition opportunity” since at least May 17 – and for the past two months, rumors have been circulating that the Town plans to buy the former Bank of America building.

The bank building, on the corner or Mason Avenue and Pine Street, has been vacant since March. According to a For Sale sign on the bank, bids were due June 8.

Four bids are believed to have been received, all under $100,000.

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