Hotel, Park Bathroom Appeals Challenge Historic Board

Cape Charles Wave

February 15, 2013

Two appeals will be heard on rulings by the Cape Charles Historic District Review Board — one regarding Hotel Cape Charles, and the other a bathroom in Central Park.

Cape Charles Town Council will hear the appeal concerning Hotel Cape Charles 6 p.m. Thursday, February 21, during the regular council meeting at Saint Charles Parish Hall.

The hotel owners, David and Kathryn Gammino, are appealing the final decision of the Historic District Review Board.

The Review Board ruled last November 20 that the hotel as constructed failed to comply with the plans submitted and approved by the Board.

The hotel has not been granted a permanent certificate of occupancy. It is closed for the winter but due to reopen March 1.

Unless Town Council overturns the Historic District Review Board decision, the hotel will not receive permission to reopen.

In a 35-page submission to the Town, the Gamminos argue that the Review Board failed to follow the Cape Charles Historic District Guidelines. “The denial was based on subjective impressions rather than [the] Guidelines,” the Gamminos wrote.

The Gamminos’ letter to the Town may be read here.

Meanwhile, another appeal of the Review Board’s decision has been filed in Northampton County Circuit Court.

The Circuit Court appeal is over a decision by the Historic District Review Board to approve a bathroom design adjacent to the pergola in Central Park.

The bathroom is planned to duplicate the design of an existing sewage pump station north of the pergola.


Local resident Donald Riley first appealed to Town Council last December 10, making the same argument as the owners of Hotel Cape Charles are now doing: that the Historic District Review Board’s decision was not in keeping with the Guidelines of the Historic District.

Riley’s court filing states: “The building that is being constructed in the park is the size, shape and style of a 1980s sewage pump station that was built in the park before the Historic District was established and therefore was exempt from the guidelines.

“The building is not in keeping with the character of the historic buildings in the area and does not include any of the elements that define the character of the neighborhood, which is a requirement of the guidelines.”

Riley is asking the court to find that the decision of the Historic District Review Board “was arbitrary and capricious and not in keeping with the Guidelines.”

Construction of the park bathroom was halted last week after the appeal was served on Mayor Dora Sullivan.

The bathroom appeal may be read here.



5 Responses to “Hotel, Park Bathroom Appeals Challenge Historic Board”

  1. Mollie Pickron on February 15th, 2013 8:07 am

    I find it fascinating that one issue is the hotel which turned out beautifully — the town is against the design based on appropriate historical likeness to the buildings in the vicinity, and the other –the exact opposite — citizens fighting back because a very inappropriate design — a 1980’s ugly sewage pump station — has been approved in the midst of lovely old houses and a beautiful new park. There doesn’t seem to be much consistency in what is considered appropriate design. I am also wondering if the hotel is not approved for occupancy what will happen? Will it be too expensive for the owners to do anything with it? Will it just sit there vacant and deteriorate?

    I am also wondering why, since the town is planning to rope off Strawberry St. for gala Our Town happenings (like the pirates and wenches weekend for example) why would you put the public bathroom way over on Plum rather than closer to the park board sponsored event(s) on Strawberry?

  2. Bruce Lindeman on February 15th, 2013 8:24 am

    I wish the Gamminos luck. Their letter is eloquently written and considering the points they raise, I wholeheartedly agree with their argument. I hope the Board/Town does the right thing here.

  3. Pete Baumann on February 15th, 2013 8:45 am

    Towns need public bathrooms. Unfortunatley, the one planned for the park is not at all in a high traffic area (but for 2-3 times a year), and it will take up area in the park that isn’t all that big to start. As far as the design, the park is a unique location; as long as the design conforms to the rest of the park, it works for me. There are plenty of bricks in the park and brick houses in town, so another small brick building is no big deviation. Bottom line, I’m not excited one way or the other, but I’d prefer the bathrooms to be more accessible to Mason Avenue.
    As for the hotel, as long as safety concerns are met, beggars can’t be choosers. Sorry, but if you want businesses to arrive and survive, then welcome people to CC, and a successful hotel is a good addition. I thank people like the Gamminos (whom I’ve never met) who not only spend their money here, but who take the time to deal with obstacles like this.

  4. Dan Breeze on February 15th, 2013 9:28 am

    Looking at the placement of the bathroom, it will match with the style of the two closest buildings. One is a brick pump house; the other is a brick residence. Why all the fuss? Maybe we should make it look like the building just south of the brick residence or possibly a few houses north of the same building. Those have a nice appeal. Or maybe the large brick building just north of the bathroom.
    By the way, the hotel looks nice. If there was a problem during construction then it should have been addressed then, not afterwards. Sounds like someone is exerting their influence in Cape Charles and nobody wants to stand up to them. Sounds like all of this is coming from one person. Wow, all these people being influenced by one person, sound familiar? Hmmmmm.

  5. Beth Ann Sabo on February 16th, 2013 8:11 am

    The Hotel Cape Charles is gorgeous, understated and brings people and dollars right downtown where our local businesses need them.

    Why don’t we just make the old library building into public restrooms? It already exists, is close to the park, matches the local structures and just needs decent plumbing to serve the community.