Council Deal to Buy Foster Lots Includes Back Tax

At Town Council meeting, New Roots Youth Garden volunteers Joann Fitchett, Jen Lewis, Tammy Holloway, and Brook Thomas receive town seal to display on the garden fence. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

March 24, 2014

In a 5-1 vote March 20, Town Council approved purchasing seven lots at the entrance to town for $100,000 from Bay Creek developer Richard “Dickie” Foster. Council member Frank Wendell opposed the purchase.

As partial payment, the deal includes $61,000 in back taxes owed the town by Foster’s company, Bay Creek LLC.

As reported in the Wave March 20, the town has been paying Foster’s county tax and town tax on the lots since 2010, as well as mowing the grass. A town welcome sign is erected on one of the lots.

The Wave has learned that a comparable lot on the other side of Randolph Avenue east of the Museum recently sold for $4,000 to the owner of Eastern Shore Custom Carts.

No use for the seven Foster lots has been stated, other than display of the welcome sign. Town Council members agreed at the meeting that they do not support the use of the lots for creating a traffic circle as proposed by VDOT and contained in the Comprehensive Plan. A traffic circle would also plow through the New Roots Youth Garden.


In other business, Public Works Director Dave Fauber told Council that bids were due Friday (March 21) for the Fun Pier repair. Bids were advertised March 18. Fauber said that work should begin this week with the goal of completion by May 26.

Mayor Dora Sullivan updated Council on her work on an ad-hoc committee to seek emergency care in Northampton County after the hospital in Nassawadox closes. Sullivan expressed concern that lack of nearby emergency health care makes Cape Charles less inviting to prospective residents.  She said she was not happy about the County Board of Supervisors’ decision not to fund a freestanding emergency care department. “If you think this does not affect real estate, you’re wrong, because people are getting older that are moving here. They ask, ‘Where’s the hospital?’ Well, it’s 20 miles up the road, but oh, by the way, it’s going to be 40 miles.”

Sullivan said she is putting a request for proposal for an emergency facility on next month’s Town Council agenda. Council member Steve Bennett asked who would pay for the facility. Sullivan responded that that would be figured out, but that she wanted the idea voted up or down next month.

Fire Chief Jay Bell presented a request from the Cape Charles Volunteer Fire Department for $25,000 for firefighting equipment and repairs to facilities. Vice Mayor Chris Bannon asked Bell if he would support a tax increase to fund the Fire Department. “No sir, I wouldn’t,” Bell replied, adding that citizens are not interested in higher taxes.

Carol Evans, a founding member of the ESVA Tourism Commission, urged the town to be prepared for space tourism on the Shore, noting that Cape Charles is in a good location for visitors going to the NASA facility on Wallops Island.

Cape Charles Historical Society President and Treasurer Marion Naar requested $15,000 funding for a professional museum director. She said that working on a project for the Cape Charles Museum could be a great opportunity for a young person just out of college.

Naar said the town needs an Interpretive Center to explain the significance of the meteor that hit 35 million years ago, creating the Chesapeake Bay. She characterized museums as “gifts to tourism, because kind of like the beach, they’re there.” Naar said that the Cape Charles Museum relies on donations and volunteers for much of its support. She asked who in the room was a member of the museum, and a large number of hands went up.

During public comments, Brook Binard spoke about her goal of starting a farmers market in Cape Charles and requested support for obtaining a location and funding. She said a market would bring the community together for healthy food, healthy products, and family fun.

Also in public comments, Town Council candidate Lenora Mitchell said she believes that Council has the citizens’ interests at heart and a vision to which they are getting ever closer. “The only problem is that that vision has not been shared with us,” she said. Mitchell asked Council to find a lot for a basketball court, space for a community center, and to provide incentives for a grocery store to locate in town. She also requested that the town purchase some open space for another park for kids to play sports and get some physical activity.

Council also heard from Town Council candidate Deborah Bender, who urged Council to hold the line on spending and to find out what residents really want before moving forward with ideas. Bender noted that two and a half years ago the Town sold seven lots, part of a street, and part of the park for $10 and now wanted to purchase seven lots for $100,000 without community buy-in (CLICK for her statement).



8 Responses to “Council Deal to Buy Foster Lots Includes Back Tax”

  1. Kathleen Bahri on March 24th, 2014 11:09 am

    Maybe the Farmers’ Market could be set up near the Welcome sign, making use of more than one of the seven lots located there.

  2. Scott Wade on March 24th, 2014 1:30 pm

    “Cape Charles Historical Society President and Treasurer Marion Naar requested $15,000 funding for a professional museum director.” Why not take the $100,000 to provide for a full-time executive director of the museum? This position could include an experienced grant writer that can continue to bring in funds and create programming for the museum. The Historical Society and museum could then operate as a true welcome center for visitors to the town. The Historical Society exists due to the efforts of Marion and a small group of dedicated volunteers. The chronic lack of funding and support from the town for the historical society is shameful.

  3. Steve Downs on March 24th, 2014 7:02 pm

    How about using the six lots not needed for a sign, as a park area with a basketball court and a farmer’s market? Also, I don’t think we need to pay a full time executive director of the museum $100K when we only have a volume of tourists here for five months of the year. Perhaps a very knowledgeable person for that time period.

  4. Wayne Creed on March 26th, 2014 3:58 pm

    I’ve made too many bad moves in real estate to say whether or not the Town got a good deal on the seven lots; however, I think purchasing the property that leads into Town, especially being able to control the look and feel of that bit of corridor, seems like a smart thing to do. What I am concerned about is what they plan to do with it. We understand that there is some movement to create a traffic circle at the intersection of Fig and Randolph, and that they needed that piece of property to make it happen. I understand roundabouts like Dupont or Logan circles in DC really work well as traffic flow devices, but I don’t think we have that issue in Cape Charles. A four-way stop might do more to save money and maintain our rural character.

    More troubling, there are strings attached to the grant money for this project: the Town will need to brand, or re-brand itself (say goodbye to the Gazebo) with some form of icon or symbol, which will stand at the center of the circle. What exactly will that be? I shudder to think. Again, this appears to be an attempt to turn us into something we’re not but interjecting random, incongruous elements into what should be a quiet, sleepy seaside village. It’s as if they go on vacation and come back, “Oh, they had these adorable traffic circles in Glasgow; we should do that in Cape Charles!”

    Time to step on the brakes, take some time, and re-evaluate. Now that we do have that land, skip the roundabout, and instead do something fun and silly, like one of those beachy signs you see in the Keys that points out the direction to various local hot spots (a bigger version of the sign that leads to Aqua).

  5. Mike Kuzma, Jr. on March 27th, 2014 1:57 pm

    Wayne, just want to make sure I got this right:
    Old School Cape Charles Government Transfer = BAD.
    7 vacant lots Government Aquisition = GOOD.
    Sooooo, if the Town Council decides to give those 7 lots away for a pittance someday, can I presume you will be agin’ it again?

  6. Wayne Creed on March 27th, 2014 7:51 pm

    Hey Mike, you’re close. Old School Cape Charles’ initial, and ultimate goal, was to keep the old school public property. OSCC’s original agreement was to lease the school as a partnership with the Town, but when Cape Charles Christian School offered take it on as the new campus, OSCC backed off. Transferring the public space to private entities, thus depriving public access, is what led to the challenge. If in the end we prevail, we hope the school will be renovated and shine as public property. Purchasing the Bank of America for the public to use as a library, I feel, was a good thing. Purchasing the 7 lots, if used wisely, is also a good thing.

  7. Mike Kuzma, Jr. on March 28th, 2014 10:52 am

    Wayne, my use of language was a bit vague — I was simply referring to the building, not the organization.

    The bank: We had a fine library building, off the tax rolls, and a nice property on the main business drag that will now NOT be throwing off sales, business, or personal property taxes. OR be used to bring those who may purchase anything from the other, struggling for customers, shops already there.

    A couple of really fine restaurants up here that used to be Bank Buildings. The wait for the “Vault” room reservations runs around 6 months out. Now that would be a nice thing to advertise on the signs — especially if they were on Route 13 where passersby might be enticed to stop in for lunch. A little shopping, and dropping of the cash.

    We still owe each other an amicable libation. Gotta keep Frank Wendell and Gene Kelly in chips, buddy!

  8. Mr. Melvin W. Williams, Jr CWO USCG (Ret) on April 3rd, 2014 9:07 pm

    Rip out, Rip off, and Rip up. This deal should be investigated to see if it’s really legal.