Planning Commissioners Want Hotels on the Highway
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
October 4, 2013
Cape Charles Planning Commissioners cast their eyes outside Town limits at their October 1 meeting, as Town Planner Robert Testerman asked for ideas about kinds of highway businesses that could benefit the Town, as well as those that could hurt it.
“Good” businesses suggested by the planning commissioners for Route 13 included chain motels, an antique center, outlet stores, fast food restaurants, adult daycare, a tutoring center, family practice, an emergency care facility, retail seafood, a veterinarian, dog grooming, and eco-tour businesses.
Businesses judged as hurting the Town included a chain drugstore and chain restaurants.
Commissioner Andy Buchholz noted, “In town there are taxes and licenses. Out of town there aren’t.”
Development outside of town was on the agenda as the result of a recent joint work session by the Town and County planning commissions. Routes into Cape Charles make up the Historic Town Entrance Corridor Overlay District, as designated in the 1991 Annexation Agreements.
Town planning commissioners agreed that Route 13 needs more motels. The existing ones (Rittenhouse Motor Inn, Peacock Inn, Shore Stay Suites, Sunset Beach Inn) are not chains, which they saw as a negative. Speaking about the nearest motel, the Rittenhouse, for example, Buchholz said, “People won’t stop there. They’ll stay at a Red Roof Inn. They will not stop unless it is a known chain.”
CONTINUED FROM FIRST PAGE
Commissioner Joan Natali agreed: “When I travel, I stop at a known hotel right on the highway. Then I go into the town. What seems to be a negative, we might be able to turn into a positive.
“I’d love to see two or three hotels out on Route 13. The occupancy of our hotels has been consistently full. The reason is we have become a wedding destination,” Natali said.
Commissioner Dan Burke said, “We have a problem with no hotels. Hotels are the first thing people look for if they are going to put a business in town.”
The commissioners agreed that Bed & Breakfasts would not suffer if more motels were built on the highway, because people who stay at B&Bs have to plan ahead and are a different clientele from persons staying at motels.
Two Annexation Agreements were signed in 1991, one between the Town and developer Brown & Root, and one between the Town and Northampton County. Both agreements address concerns about potential development on the access routes into town.
The agreement between Northampton County and Cape Charles states: “The County acknowledges that the Town and the Commission [on Local Government] have concerns about the potential impact to the existing business districts within the towns of Cape Charles and Cheriton caused by commercial development along the Virginia State Route 184 corridor and at the traffic light on U.S. Route 13.”
That agreement gave Cape Charles 12 months to make a proposal for amendment of the County’s land use section of the County Comprehensive Plan. There is no record of that ever being done.