Public Hearing Thursday on 23% Lodging Tax Increase


April 24, 2014

Cape Charles Town Council will hold a public hearing tonight on increasing the town lodging tax by 23 percent. Council then intends to pass the tax increase at its regular meeting immediately following the public hearing.

The public hearing is 6 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at St. Charles Parish Hall, followed by the regular Town Council meeting.

Town staff has rewritten Town Code to remove references to the annexation agreement between the Town and Northampton County and all related State statutes. Under the annexation agreement the town allowed the county to charge a 2 percent lodging tax.

Council members Steve Bennett and Frank Wendell oppose the tax increase, while all other members are in favor.

CLICK to read the proposed lodging tax ordinance.

County Supervisor Granville Hogg to Hold
Town Meeting Wednesday at Cape Charles Museum

County Supervisor Hogg (Wave photo)

County Supervisor Hogg (Wave photo)

April 21, 2014

Northampton County Supervisor Granville Hogg will hold a Town Hall Meeting for constituents 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the Cape Charles Museum and Welcome Center, 814 Randolph Avenue.

Topics will include:

  • Northampton County’s proposed zoning code changes,
  • Emergency medical services,
  • County budget, and
  • Public Service Authority (PSA).

“I am inviting you to a Town Hall Meeting to listen to your concerns,” said Hogg. “Please identify your concerns and let me know what you are in favor of, or in opposition to.”

The event will be in the traditional town hall meeting style — an informal public gathering that provides citizens a chance to voice their opinions and ask questions of elected officials.

Hogg will also hold a town meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at Kiptopeke Elementary School.

Zoning Variance Granted for Mason Ave. Development

Developer Patrick Hand displays plans to Board of Zoning Appeals (Wave photo)

Developer Patrick Hand displays plans to Board of Zoning Appeals (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

April 21, 2014

Cape Charles Board of Zoning Appeals approved variances April 14 for half of the proposed development of the shuttered grocery store property on Mason Avenue. Local developer Patrick Hand had requested variances for setbacks, open space, and parking. The requests had been tabled at an earlier meeting, and the Board had asked Hand to come back with other alternatives for his parking variance request

Hand’s response was to request that the parking requirement be reduced to one car per 200 square feet of commercial property. The Board instead agreed to one car for every 300 square feet. Under town code, parking requirements are dependent on the uses in the building, but Hand, who does not yet own the property, does not know what businesses might locate in the 3,750 square feet of commercial space that he plans to build.

In addition to the commercial space, Hand envisions his building housing one- and two-bedroom apartments for retirees and weekenders in the Soho style of New York. The proposed building would be 120 feet wide and 104 deep on a lot that is 105 feet deep, thus allowing a one foot setback from the drainage ditch on the adjacent railroad property. Although the Harbor District has no setback requirement for the rear of a building, lots are supposed to be 140 feet deep. [Read more...]

Zoning Opponents Sound Off at State of the Shore

Cape Charles Wave

April 21, 2014

Blustery conditions cancelled Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s charter flight to attend the State of the Shore event April 15, so he had to come by car. But the real turbulence at the meeting came from opposition to Northampton County’s rezoning plan.

Northampton Board of Supervisors Chairman Larry LeMond defended the zoning rewrite, saying the county needs to streamline the development process. Those who questioned the county’s plans are advocates of “no growth,” he said.

Ken Dufty, representing the newly formed group Citizens for Open Government, responded that the proposed zoning ordinance was not in accord with the County’s Comprehensive Plan and that the Planning Commission had not even discussed the zoning changes until two weeks before the public hearing. Dufty disputed LeMond’s claim that the Planning Commission had had two and a half years to look at proposed zoning changes. He also noted that the Planning Commission had asked the county to hire a consultant to help review the proposed changes, but that the county refused to fund it.

LeMond responded that Supervisor Larry Trala felt that the citizens should be able to take care of the review of the ordinance without hiring a consultant. The Planning Commission has 100 days to offer suggestions about the changes, and no further public hearings are scheduled for what LeMond referred to as a “hot-button issue.” [Read more...]


EXTRA! Gazette Omits Lenora Mitchell’s Candidacy

Click on image above to enlarge


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...]


Proposed Town Budget Increases Salaries but Not Taxes

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.

[Read more...]

Zoning Appeals Board Meets Again Today on
Mason Avenue Redevelopment Plan

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...]

Mason Avenue Development Concessions Sought

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...]

Next Page »