TOWN COUNCIL: ‘Don’t Answer That Question’
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
October 21, 2013
Cape Charles Town Planner Rob Testerman found himself in a difficult position at last Thursday’s Town Council meeting. Councilman Frank Wendell asked him if he could identify the front of the school in Central Park and if parking is allowed in the front of residential properties in the Historic District.
The issue was an appeal by the Old School Cape Charles civic group of a Certificate of Appropriateness granted to a developer by the Town Planner. Testerman and Town Manager Heather Arcos had decided to reject the appeal without a hearing by Town Council.
WENDELL: Doesn’t our historic ordinance say you can’t put a parking lot in front of an historic building?
TESTERMAN: I don’t believe there’s anything about that.
WENDELL: Do you agree that they can put a parking lot in the front of the building? Does anybody dispute that the front of the building faces south? Let’s start with Rob: Does the front of the building face south?
MAYOR DORA SULLIVAN: Overruled. There is no discussion . . . it’s not an action item.
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Wendell then made a motion to override the staff decision and allow Old School Cape Charles to carry forward its appeal to Town Council. No one immediately seconded the motion, so the mayor asked Councilman Tom Godwin if he would second it. Godwin refused, followed by Council members Mike Sullivan and Joan Natali. Councilmen Chris Bannon and Steve Bennett did not attend the meeting. Because the motion was not seconded, Council did not vote on it.
Wendell then asked Mayor Sullivan if she could identify the front of the building. Councilwoman Natali told her, “Don’t answer that.”
Wendell wanted to know if the developer had to come back for further Certificates of Appropriateness as work progressed. “For example, would they have to request a Certificate of Appropriateness for the parking lot?” he asked.
Arcos said that those matters would be taken up as permit requests. When Wendell asked Testerman about parking, he replied that the parking lot was a landscaping issue and not the purview of the Historic District Review Board.
The Town’s Historic District Guidelines state (p. 25) “Place residential parking areas such as driveways at the side and rear. Do not provide parking in front of the house.”
The historic address and front of the school is 23 Park Row, which is where the front door is located, but according to former Town Planner Tom Bonadeo, the building’s address is now 423 Plum Street. The Wave asked Northampton County staff when the address change occurred, but they could find no records. According to County staff, any address change in the Town should be documented by the Town. But according to Bonadeo and Testerman there are no such records.
Old School Cape Charles president Wayne Creed told the Wave that the group plans to raise the issue of the appeal and the front of the school building with both the Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Municipal League.
Click here to read Creed’s statement to Council.
Click here to read Deborah Bender’s statement.
Click here to read Veann Duvall’s statement.