CAPE CHARLES WAVE
April 14, 2014
Attention Cape Charles voters: Lenora Mitchell-Fields has NOT withdrawn her candidacy for Town Council in the May 6 elections.
The town’s official publication, Cape Charles Gazette, inexplicably omitted Mitchell’s name in its April 14 edition headlined “2014 Is An Election Year!”
The story states that “five candidates are running for Council,” and then lists five names. But in fact, SIX candidates are running for Council.
Reached at her store, Mitchell was asked by the Wave to guess which candidate the Gazette had left off its list. Her first guess was Deborah Bender, who was once referred to by Mayor Sullivan as the “Barking Bender,” perhaps due to her history of public comments at Town Council meetings. But Bender’s name was not the one omitted from the Gazette.
Lenora Mitchell has her own history of criticizing the Town when an official injustice has been committed. When the town sold the basketball court, parking lot, and old school to a developer for conversion into apartments, it stipulated that the property could not be made available to low-income residents — despite the developer’s intention to receive over $1 million in state and federal assistance for renovating the building. [Read more...]
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
April 14, 2014
Cape Charles Town Council is in the midst of hammering out a $3.2 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The projected budget does not increase taxes on real estate or personal property, and utility bills are also projected not to increase. But even though no general tax increase is planned, the budget includes a 2 percent cost of living adjustment for all town employees.
At a Town Council budget workshop April 10, Council member Frank Wendell argued that since the town is paying $10,000 for a wage and compensation study, it should not provide any cost of living adjustment until the study results have been received.
Town Council does want to increase the lodging tax imposed on guests at hotels, B&Bs, and vacation rentals a whopping 23 percent — from the current 3 percent to 3.7 percent. That’s in addition to 5.3 percent state tax and 2 percent county tax on short-term lodging, for a new total of 11 percent. The tax increase is projected to generate an additional $19,000 revenue for the town.
The lodging tax would be spent on tourism-related events such as Fourth of July fireworks, Cape Charles Business Association projects, the Historical Society, and the new tourism website Cape Charles By the Bay. A public hearing for the proposed tax increase has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at St. Charles Parish Hall.
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
April 14, 2014
Developer Patrick Hand hopes to replace the old Be-Lo grocery store on Mason Avenue with a mixed-use building with commercial storefronts at ground level and condos upstairs. Last Monday (April 7) he asked the Board of Zoning Appeals to allow reduced setbacks, fewer parking spaces, and reduced green space for his project. But the Board wanted more information, and is meeting again today (April 14) at 4 p.m. at Town Hall.
The Board asked Hand to give them options for how his requested parking variance could be addressed. Hand had suggested placing stipulations on use of the property such as allowing no restaurants, which require more parking.
The setback variance and green space requirements were less of a problem for the Board. But to receive a variance, Hand must demonstrate “undue hardship not shared generally by other [similar] properties.”
Town Council candidate Deborah Bender spoke at the meeting, noting that a zoning matter should not be taken up before the Harbor District Review Board considered Hand’s proposals. Bender pointed out that the town had spent thousands of dollars and many hours to create the Harbor Area Conceptual Master Plan and Design Guidelines, but that they are being ignored. Bender quoted the Cape Charles zoning ordinance: “Harbor Development Certificate required. No zoning clearance shall be issued for location, construction, or enlargement of any building or structure within the Harbor District until a Harbor Development Certificate has been issued. Submission of a Harbor Development Certificate Application and approval by the Town Council shall be required to obtain a Harbor Development Certificate.”
Receiving a development certificate is a lengthy procedure that consists of a “General Application” and a “Detailed Application,” and requires approval of Town Council after it has been approved by the Harbor District Review Board. Bender said that the developer was putting the cart before the horse by asking for a variance before receiving approval by the Harbor District Review Board. [Read more...]
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
April 7, 2014
The Cape Charles Board of Zoning Appeals meets today (Monday) at 4 p.m. at Town Hall to hear public comment and make a determination on variances requested by local developer Patrick Hand.
Hand proposes to demolish the former Be-Lo grocery store on Mason Avenue and build a commercial and residential building on the property. He is requesting reductions in setback requirements, permission to provide less than the required number of parking spaces, and a reduction in the amount of green space required by Town Code.
According to a background report from Town Planner Robert Testerman, the development would open the Strawberry Street viewshed to the harbor. But that might only happen if the town buys a portion of the property from Hand for an extension to Strawberry Street. Hand told Town Council March 27 that if the town did not purchase the property soon, he might sell it to someone else.
While the grocery store has been shuttered for many years, the property owner has allowed lots on either side of the building to be used for public parking. Hand had offered to sell part of one of the parking lots to the Town for public parking, but Town Council and Hand were unable to agree on a price. [Read more...]
By BILL NEVILLE
Cape Charles Historical Society
April 7, 2014
On Saturday, March 15, the Cape Charles Historical Society hosted a reunion of Chesapeake Bay ferry employees. The ferry operations ended at Kiptopeke 50 years ago with the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Many of the ferry employees went to Delaware and New Jersey to work with the newly formed Cape May-Lewes ferries; others went to work on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and a few went to new jobs working on ships in Panama.
Over 50 people attended including approximately 20 former ferry employees along with family members and other ferry enthusiasts. Ferry employees included captains, mates, deck hands, janitors, office staff, wheelsmen, boiler tenders, and engineers, as well as auxiliary support personnel. Also attending the reunion were representatives from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
The Cape Charles Museum was filled with laughter and the sound of stories being told, memories being rekindled, and friendships being renewed. The nostalgic atmosphere was enhanced by the many ferry model displays, paintings, and pictures as video clips of old ferry scenes ran on several televisions and computers. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel also provided an interesting display of memorabilia collected over the years.
Ron West and Butch Baxter presented a slideshow with commentary about the history of the concrete ships making up the breakwater at Kiptopeke and the final destination of the ferries, most of which have been scrapped. Interesting facts presented included accounts of the sinking of the Northampton when she struck an unmarked reef (Suwanee Rock) in the Gulf of California’s Lorenzo Channel leading into La Paz, Mexico, on June 19, 1975, and the sinking of the Princess Anne in May 1993 off Palm Beach, Florida, to create a fishing reef. The Virginia Beach is still running as a ferry in Connecticut. The Old Point Comfort was grounded and abandoned on the Rio Parana’ River in San Nicolas, Argentina, in 1993. The Accomac (once the Virginia Lee) burned May 28,1964, and was later towed to Mallows Bay on the Potomac and partially scrapped. Her remains are still visible today.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel displays and paintings will remain in the museum for the season to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Bridge-Tunnel.
The Cape Charles Historical Society was extremely pleased to be a part of such a timely event recognizing the people who were a pivotal part of an important era in the history of our region.
The Museum will open the last week of April and remain open until the end of November. Hours are 10-2 Monday through Friday, 10-5 Saturdays, and 1-5 Sundays. Admission is free.
By TAMMY HOLLOWAY
Cape Charles Christian School
April 7, 2014
Students at Cape Charles Christian School expanded their minds this academic year by participating in the Odyssey of the Mind program. Students in grades 4-7 were able to participate in a weekly after school program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities. Team members are encouraged to apply their creativity to solve problems ranging from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics.
The 4th and 5th grade team of six students under the direction of Kate Tayloe worked on a “Not So Haunted House.” They created a haunted house that used mechanisms to create special effects that were intended to frighten, but actually produced a different effect. CCCS teacher Holly Hubbard coached four middle school aged students on the project they selected which was called “Drivers Test.” The overall project was to create a vehicle that moved forward using one propulsion system and backward using a different propulsion system. They had to write a skit that included a driver’s test and accomplished three separate tasks along the way. “Our students put an Eastern Shore spin on the problem by making their driver’s test a boat driving test and including channel markers as their directional signals. They also make mention of Cobb Island, and include a lesson about the harmful effects of mylar balloons on the sea turtle population.” said Hubbard.
“ I was really impressed with the creativity and imagination students put into the projects and that they did all of the work themselves” said Kate Tayloe, CCCS teacher and OTM coach. Students must do all of the work as a team, planning and executing the solution for the problem they select. The role of the coach is to guide students in their problem solving and collaboration, not do it for them.
Cape Charles Christian School along with other Northampton and Accomac students participated in the Tidewater Region 6 Odyssey of the Mind Tournament on March 29 at Tabb High School in Yorktown, VA. As they packed up their projects, they were filled with excitement over participating in this event for the first time. They had no expectations of winning. They were quite simply just excited to participate and of course to embark on a road trip! The CCCS community was humbled by the recognition the middle school “Drivers Test” team received as they were named the Division Two Region 6 champions for this problem. They came back to Cape Charles with happy hearts and eager minds, ready to prepare to compete at the state level on April 26 in Rocky Mount. “Our kids have collaborated to solve a very complicated problem. Odyssey of the Mind is an amazing experience for our students where they are forced to think and problem solve in a hands on project. They are developing skills they will take with them and use in real life experiences,” said middle school team coach Hubbard.
Follow the student’s adventure on the CCCS Facebook page at Cape Charles Christian School. Enrolling now for the 2014-15 academic year. Forward questions about the Cape Charles Christian School to 757-331-1717 or [email protected].
CAPE CHARLES WAVE
April 2, 2014
Quite a few more readers than we expected were fooled by yesterday’s story reporting that Town Council was selling the Inner Harbor for $10. We thought we had planted enough clues to make everybody realize it was a joke, but in retrospect we realize the story was close enough to reality to be somewhat believable.
For example, after the first sentence reporting the $10 sale, we wrote: “The original offer was $1, but was raised ten-fold as a demonstration of goodwill by the buyer.” But that’s exactly what happened with the old school property: the buyer originally offered $1 and then raised it to $10.
The next clue was the Harbor purchaser: J. David Schmick of St. Petersburg, Russia, owner of Sketch-Along Resourcing LLC. Readers who have closely followed the sale of the school and park property know the buyer was J. David McCormack of Petersburg, Virginia, owner of Echelon Resources LLC. But not everyone remembers that, so it wasn’t enough to give the hoax away.
But then we reported that Schmick planned to turn the Shanty into a Hong Kong style floating restaurant, and that he might rebrand it as a McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant. If that wasn’t a giveaway, we thought that surely the Disney waterslide, jet ski race course, and ferry boat casino would not pass the reality test. An added clue was that Charade Adventures LLC would operate the ferryboat casino. The contract to buy the old school was with Echelon Resources, but the town actually sold it to another McCormack company – Cheron Ventures. [Read more...]
CAPE CHARLES WAVE
April 1, 2014
Cape Charles Town Council has tentatively agreed in closed session to accept an unsolicited confidential proposal to buy the inner portion of the Town Harbor for $10. The original offer was $1, but was raised ten-fold as a demonstration of goodwill by the buyer. “Even though we don’t receive a whole lot of money up front, we can expect to benefit in the future from property taxes, water bills, and increased tourism,” explained one Council member who supports the deal.
The purchaser is J. David Schmick, originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, owner of Sketch-Along Resourcing LLC. Schmick, an international entrepreneur, promises that Sketch-Along’s investments in Cape Charles will invigorate the entire Eastern Shore, beginning with the Shanty, which will become a floating restaurant after the style of those in Hong Kong.
Drawing a sketch on a Shanty napkin, Schmick outlined his plan to relocate the Shanty onto a floating dock in mid-harbor. There will be a harbor taxi service to ferry customers, and Cape Charles Water Sports would be a logical supplier of the service, he said. There is also the opportunity for tourists to rent a jet ski to get to the Shanty, eat, and then zoom over to the public beach.
According to an official, the town’s newly increased transient occupancy tax will also be levied on customers of the harbor taxi. “What could be more transient than that,” reasoned the official.
However, at least one close observer is worried that Schmick’s development plans could destroy the small-town charm of Cape Charles. For example, it is already rumored that Schmick will take control of the Shanty and rebrand it as a McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurant. Schmick is not known to be associated with the famous restaurant chain, but admits to an affinity for the company that shares his unusual last name.
Entrepreneur Schmick was able to convince Town Council to essentially give him the Inner Harbor to fulfill his vision for a water theme park replacing the current boat slips. Schmick claims to have financing already in place to build a Disney-style “Slip ‘n’ Slide” along with paddle boats, a competition jet ski race course, and an “Ol’ Tyme Ferry Boat” modeled after a Mississippi riverboat casino. (The ferry boat casino would come in Phase 2, with a yet-to-be-determined start date, operated by a separate firm doing business as Charade Adventures LLC.) [Read more...]