#18 Story
EXTRA: Town Paying Dickie Foster’s Real Estate Tax

Under agreement between Town of Cape Charles and Bay Creek developer, Foster has saved nearly $20,000 in taxes and lawn care over four years.

Under agreement between Town of Cape Charles and Bay Creek developer, Foster has saved over $30,000 in taxes and lawn care in four years by allowing this sign on one of his lots. (Wave photo)


March 20, 2014

Lease documents supplied to the Wave show that since 2010 the Town of Cape Charles has paid all real estate taxes for seven commercial lots on Randolph Avenue owned by Bay Creek developer Richard “Dickie” Foster.

The annual Northampton County tax bill is $2,355 and the annual Cape Charles tax bill is $935, for a total of $3,290 paid by the town each year.

Under the lease agreement, the town also bears all expense for landscaping, cutting the grass, and “otherwise maintaining the property.”

The lease was signed in June 2010 by Foster and Town Manager Heather Arcos. By June of this year the town will have saved Foster over $13,000 in taxes and at least $17,000 lawn care, for a total of over $30,000.


The only benefit received by the town is permission to display a “Welcome to Historic Cape Charles” sign on one of the lots. Town Manager Arcos has not explained why seven lots are required to display a welcome sign on one lot.

The sign includes a large “Rotary International” emblem along with a notice of weekly meetings at the Eastville Inn, eight miles north of Cape Charles town limits.

CLICK to read the 2010 lease agreement; CLICK to read the 2012 lease renewal.

As reported March 17 (CLICK), Town Council now plans to purchase the seven lots from Foster, which will remove them from both the county and the town tax rolls. The purchase price is $100,000.

Town Council is expected to vote tonight (Thursday) on purchasing the lots.



30 Responses to “#18 Story
EXTRA: Town Paying Dickie Foster’s Real Estate Tax”

  1. Joe Banks on March 20th, 2014 2:02 pm


  2. Don Bender on March 20th, 2014 2:25 pm

    Is this April Fool’s day or what ?

  3. Tom Kenny on March 20th, 2014 3:30 pm

    Example of excellent investigative journalism? Making a mountain over a mole hill? Math isn’t my strong suit but if I have this straight, $3,290 per year for 7 lots. The lease (in my reading) has the town paying the taxes in lieu of rent. So, $3,290 divided by the 7 lots means the town pays $470 per year on a lot. And your calculation for the $17,000 spent on landscape — where does that number come from? And what did Mr. Foster have to do with any of this that he’s the headline?

    Landscape cost calculation: $25/week per lot for 26 weeks each year for 4 years = $25 X 7 X 26 X 4 = $18,200, reduced to $17,000 for a conservative estimate. If you can find someone who will mow a full-size lot for less than $25 please tell us. Since you read the lease, you might have noticed it was signed by Mr. Foster. –EDITOR

  4. Antonio Sacco on March 20th, 2014 4:08 pm

    It is said that they are also paying the new owners of the industrial park their real estate tax. Folks it’s time to revolt against the old guard of Northampton and put them away and get the honest folks on both boards that believe in their fellow man instead of their pockets. That’s hard to do, but it can be done.

  5. Stephen K. Fox on March 20th, 2014 4:13 pm

    Whether a good or bad deal is another question, but read the Lease and report its contents fairly. The payments were in lieu of paying rent. Realistically, you have to account for a fair rental value of the lots in the equation. It is not uncommon for a Tenant to agree to pay taxes and to maintain the property over which it has exclusive use.

  6. Wayne Creed on March 20th, 2014 4:42 pm

    Homie, this party is just so cray cray . . . Cape Charles sure is business-friendly, even gave Daddy Warbucks $180,000 to plop a boatyard down on our delicate wetlands. Just on these two deals alone, and the new library, we’re looking at half a million dollars. Hey, wait a minute — when Bannon, Natali, and Sullivan said they didn’t have any money to fix the old school for the public good, were they:
    A. being totally honest
    B. being big fat liars
    C. victims of irritable bowel syndrome

    Please send your answers to the “Wave of Indigestion.” Contest winners will be entered in a raffle for a chance to win two tickets to the next Town Council retreat, a bottle of Pepto-Bismal, and a photograph of Andy [. . .] listening to William Shatner’s album, “The Transformed Man.”

  7. Dana Lascu on March 20th, 2014 7:49 pm

    Spending a considerable sum to keep an unremarkable sign in a spot where it makes no sense is frivolous and a clear indication that there needs to be some oversight over town management spending decisions, or at least some periodic auditing. Supporting a new business investing in Cape Charles, Wayne, is quite another matter, and I would have expected you to enthusiastically endorse it.

  8. Wayne Creed on March 21st, 2014 8:23 am

    Dana, I tend to curb my enthusiasm whenever possible, but I am still a fan of Kodachrome, because as the man said, everything looks worse in black and white. There is also a danger in thinking in black and white–not all businesses are created equal. Many thought that a Max security prison in Bayview was a good thing because, as a business, it creates lots of jobs. Be careful which neon god you create to bow down to.

  9. Kearn Schemm on March 21st, 2014 9:00 am

    Several folks have defended this insane payment by the town as “in lieu of rent.” Since those lots have stood unwanted for a very long time, what is the fair rental value? Why were SEVEN lots needed for a SIGN? Once again, elections are coming, just another proof of why the current crew of town politicos has got to go.

  10. Craig Richardson on March 21st, 2014 9:24 am

    Is there some way that the Commonwealth can investigate the town and its questionable dealings? The town council is giving away everything they can because they know come election time, they will be gone! They’re making as many deals as they can before their time is up — good old boy mentality at its best!

  11. Antonio Sacco on March 21st, 2014 9:40 am

    I believe we must take the power from those that only benefit themselves and not the entire people and build a County for all the people and not the few. There is a lot of money in Cape Charles and Eastville, and these few scoundrels know how to take your hard-earned tax dollars for their own benefit. I find it is their philosophy “hurray for me and screw you all.” Revolt citizens — throw all the BUMS out and regain your County before we become slaves again to a monarchy that was once thrown out of the colonies but survived here.

  12. Geneva Smith on March 21st, 2014 10:13 am

    Once you get to town, I believe most people know where they are. So take down the sign, let the owner of the land pay taxes, and give his landscape business to a town grass-cutting business. Use the money saved to reduce water bills.

  13. Mike Kuzma, Jr. on March 21st, 2014 10:52 am

    Mr. Fox: In New Jersey (a much more expensive place than the Eastern Shore), billboard companies pay about $100 per month on comparable rural land leases. And frankly, do we really need 7 lots to accomodate a sign? VDOT has programs that allow municipalities to use — gratis — right-of-ways to erect welcome signs.

  14. Tom Kenny on March 21st, 2014 11:56 am

    Mr. Schemm: Do the math, the town pays $39.17 per month per lot. That is cheaper than Mr. Kuzma’s $100 per month billboard. Should the town have 7 lots? Who knows, but those 7 insure that the sign is seen and has clear vistas.

  15. Wayne Creed on March 21st, 2014 12:58 pm

    Mr. Kenny makes a good point, and in reality, it is a good idea for the Town to continue to purchase property where it can. Certainly, trying to obtain properties along Mason, that in future could be used for access and parking, would also be a good thing. This idea was at the root of Old School Cape Charles fight to keep the old high school in the public domain. As the trails, including the Artisan’s trail continue to connect Cape Charles, the need for adequate public space will become ever more important. Again, the old school, at the geographic center of our town, must remain the fundamental endpoint where, in Jungian terms, causality, synchronicity, space-time and energy converge. In other words, the end of the line for roads from all over the world.

    For all this preachy talk about the Artisans trail, the best we’ll have to offer in town is a musty old abandoned grocery store off to the side, instead of a grand, industrial-era reminder of when Americans still made things. Really, wouldn’t the proper adaptive re-use of the school be to house a community of artisans, teachers, and scientists? Isn’t that convergence what a community center really means, and doesn’t that concept deserve a structure that is just as spatially relevent? Well, despite tongue-in-cheek humor, I support the town’s purchase of the 7 lots, just as I supported the purchase of the Bank of America building for the Library. Which is also why I may never get over the hypocrisy of them giving away a public building in geocenter of town for $10.

  16. Mike Kuzma, Jr. on March 21st, 2014 1:18 pm

    Mr. Kenny: $39.17 (rounded up) say $40 X 7 = $280 per month. A billboard takes up maybe 1/10 of ONE lot, leaving the remainder to be developed/used. The clear vista you speak of is only visible to those who are ALREADY on their way to Cape Chuck. Put it on the highway (using VDOT Right-of-Way under the “Gateway” program) and then ALL that Rt. 13 traffic can see what wonders Cape Charles has to offer.

  17. Kearn Schemm on March 21st, 2014 1:31 pm

    Mr. Kenny: You do the math, the sign is on ONE LOT, not seven. Why have we been paying for seven? Once again, what is the fair market value of the lots? Is there a single other empty lot being rented in the entire town? How about in the county? This is not farmland, it has no use. We could have gotten a spot from VDOT for free. Open your nose and smell the stench of corruption.

  18. Tom Kenny on March 21st, 2014 2:22 pm

    It is not unusual for any town to announce a Welcome before entering the core or business district of the town. It serves as a gateway. It projects this is a destination, a place to live. The sign on Rt 13 would not function the same. That sign would be more of a “we are here,” “this way to us.” Having a welcome sign on 13 gives the impression that Cape Charles is on Route 13 and consists of one traffic light and a shopping center.

    Renting 7 lots insures that the sign is not blocked by development, other signs, or overgrown vegetation. If you’re worried about $280 per month, have the town pass a rule that no town vehicle is allowed to idle. You got your savings.

  19. Benjamin Lewis on March 21st, 2014 3:19 pm

    The landscaping calculations are incorrect. I know because I own the company who mows the lots (and has done so since 2008). The total amount the town will have paid is $5940 through June of this year, not $17,000. They use their own employees to mulch and maintain the sign. So add $13,000 in taxes and $5940 for landscaping and you arrive at $18940. Divided by 7 lots this equates to $662 and change per year, per lot.

    I would not want a developer with ANY rights to the most visible property in town, at any time. The town and its residents should feel grateful we were able to buy these at such a reasonable price. He bought them fair and square and if anyone is upset they should direct that disgust at the town management in place who allowed the lots to be purchased by Mr. Foster in the first place.

    And no, we’re not interested in mowing any other empty lots….

    My worthless two cents.

  20. Don Bender on March 21st, 2014 7:12 pm

    The Scott Estate originally owned many lots in Cape Charles. When Brown & Root bought the Scott estate they had the lots — then Dickie Foster bought it all. That is how he got the lots.

    Thank you Benjamin Lewis for your input. Always good to get the info straight from the source.

  21. W. Andrew Dickinson, Jr. on March 22nd, 2014 8:40 pm

    My childhood began in Cape Charles in the ’30s and continued through high school in the ’40s when Cape Charles was a bustling community, a wonderful place to grow up. The bridge-tunnel and the decline of the railroad put the town on a downward spiral. Only the passion and commitment of Dickie Foster saved the town from desolation, and all of the citizens of lower Northampton County owe Dickie a huge debt of gratitude. Thanks to his determination and vision, we have a first class resort in a town that is having a renaissance. None of that could have happened without Dickie — and it cost him dearly in the end. I think the citizens of Cape Charles should show Dickie their appreciation by erecting an appropriate monument to him on the main street. It is the right thing to do and I will gladly contribute to such a project.

    W. Andrew Dickinson, Jr. MD
    Cape Charles High School Class of ’48

  22. Catherine Nottingham on March 22nd, 2014 10:17 pm

    Thank you Dr. Dickinson for reminding us of the faith and sacrifice it took for Dick Foster to invest in our struggling little town.

    And if it was not for Dick Foster we would not have attracted as many nice new tax paying citizens or as much entertainment.

  23. Robert Rittenhouse on March 23rd, 2014 9:59 am

    Thank you, Andy — that needed to be expressed. Many of us remember what was here before. “Dickie’s vision!” Sure miss Nancy and Amos . . . .

  24. Gordon Campbell on March 23rd, 2014 12:50 pm

    In your unbridled quest to discredit the town you could not see that the purchase is a smart financial move. Just a simple off the cuff lease vs. own analysis proves that. If the lease opportunity cost to the town is $3290 (county & town tax) and the cost of money is 2% the town should purchase the property and the town will save $1290 per year. This simple calculation does not take into account the value of the asset on the town’s books, the strategic value of the property to the town, nor the potential appreciation of the property. If the property appreciates at only 3% per year the value increases 80% over 20 years to $180,000. I think it is worth a lot more than that right now and evidently the Town Council agrees and will purchase an undervalued property that will yield a great return to the town over the years.

    Today’s story update (CLICK) reports that a comparable commercial lot on Randolph Avenue recently sold for $4,000. –EDITOR

  25. Antonio Sacco on March 23rd, 2014 2:27 pm

    Dr. Dickinson, your kind sentiment about Mr. Foster was welcomed. I was the only one that made a passionate speech on his behalf before the annexation, and I was told, “Hey Yankee, go back where you came from.” They waited for me outside the Eastville courthouse to beat me up, but to their surprise I stood my ground to defend myself. There are still folks that remember that incident.

    Mr. Foster got caught up in a economic meltdown throughout the U.S. He is no different then the ordinary householder trying to keep their heads above water. He is just one person — there are many more who really are in need. There are a lot of areas that need attention: Pay raises for the Cape Charles work force, more police, the Christian School needs help, the Palace Theatre needs a boost, folks need a recreation hall to play bingo, play pool, or meet with their neighbors to catch up on news.

  26. Mike Kuzma, Jr. on March 24th, 2014 2:29 pm

    Mr. Foster’s travails — and I do not for a moment disagree that he is as caught up in the diminished America that we “hoped” for the “change” to — but this issue has nothing to do with him. It is a simple matter of fiscally prudent government.

  27. Gene Kelly on March 24th, 2014 4:42 pm

    With all due respect to Mr. Sacco, why do we need more Police? Can’t for the life of me figure that one out!

  28. Steve Downs on March 24th, 2014 7:16 pm

    There IS A SIGN at the entrance to Cape Chuck. How could you miss it?

  29. Antonio Sacco on March 24th, 2014 11:51 pm

    Mr. Kelly, Cape Charles will grow, tourists will come, and population will increase in a few years. The national economy is improving, GDP growth in 2014 will be 2.7% — last year it was 1.9%. Manufacturing will increase to 3.5%, so the outlook looks good. So to answer your question, yes a few more trained police should be ready to face and enforce the law, and you and your family can sleep knowing you’re protected.

  30. Gene Kelly on March 25th, 2014 5:19 pm

    Mr. Sacco in a time when we have faced the worst economy over the last 4+ years, I find it farcical to add Police Officers at present. The economy of The Eastern Shore has certainly not grown in any shape or form recently! This is the time to cut expenses…not add to them for no logical reason.