$78,000 Later, Route 13 Sewer Project Put on Hold

Cape Charles Wave

June 29, 2015

In a stunning defeat to proponents of a sewer pipe from Route 13 to the Cape Charles treatment plant, the Northampton County Board of Supervisors voted June 22 to put Public Service Authority plans on hold. Citing higher priorities, including emergency medical services and the public schools, Supervisor Granville Hogg made the motion, which carried in a 3-1 vote. Supervisor Larry Trala was opposed, noting that the PSA had been working on the project for quite a while.

Supervisor Larry LeMond expressed impatience with the Town of Cape Charles for its failure to reach an agreement with the PSA about the cost of services. He reported that the town wants to condition a sewer deal on whether the county gives the town a say on what kinds of commercial activity would be allowed just outside town limits.

PSA Chairman John Reiter told the Supervisors that engineering studies for the project were 40 percent complete. The PSA has paid almost $78,000 to date, including $8,000 for a study of possible use of the Bayview facility which had been requested by the Supervisors.

Reiter reported that negotiations with the Town of Cape Charles were still in progress, citing differences over how much should be charged per gallon of wastewater and whether there should be a connection fee. Reiter said that an agreement was close on the per-gallon cost. But he complained that the connection fee could cost $750,000, adding considerably to upfront costs. [Read more…]


Body of Teen Swimmer Found Near Town Fishing Pier


June 22, 2015

Persons gathered on the Cape Charles boardwalk Sunday night during search and rescue operations for a missing swimmer heard a weeping, distraught man call out “mi hijo” — my son. At that time his son had been missing in the water for some two hours. Police contacted the Coast Guard at about 6:30 p.m. to report the missing boy.

Although search teams continued through the night, the body of 15-year old Alvaro Lopez-Castaneda was not found until Monday afternoon, when it was recovered near the town fishing pier. He had recently finished the ninth grade at Nandua High School in Accomack County.

The tragedy was sadly reminiscent of another Sunday afternoon last August when an 8-year-old drowned off the beach. His body was not recovered until the following Tuesday — also close to the fishing pier.

Following the drowning last August, outspoken residents urged town officials to erect warning signs to swimmers and establish a roped-off area. Some called for town life guards as well. In response, the town announced plans for a designated swimming area, but as of yesterday — the first official day of summer — nothing had been done.

Rescue efforts included use of a Coast Guard 25-foot response boat crew from Station Cape Charles and a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City. Virginia Marine Resources Commission personnel and members of the Cape Charles Fire Department also took part in the search.


Bay Creek vs. Relentless Chesapeake Bay

June 22, 2015

It’s the “Battle of the Bays.” On the left we have the mighty Chesapeake Bay, champion for the past 35 million years ever since the area was struck by a meteor. On the right is upstart challenger Bay Creek South, formerly managed by Dickie Foster, who dared to build a golf course mere feet from the Bay. Now under the control of Keyser/Sinclair, Bay Creek enjoys the advantage of modern technology and deep pockets, while the Chesapeake Bay relies only on wind, waves, and time.

Who will be the victor? Odds are that Bay Creek will win the first several rounds, thanks to a rock wall being constructed just west of the golf cart path. But before the battle is over, the Chesapeake Bay can be expected to combine forces with the elements to deliver a knock-out punch —  just as the Bay did with Hurricane Sandy less than three years ago.

Town Hits Mason Avenue Parkers with $$ Fines; Shoppers, Merchants Outraged

Cape Charles Wave

June 22, 2015

Up until Thursday, June 18, motorists parking front-ways in the new reverse angle parking on Mason Avenue were not breaking the law, because there was no law. Cape Charles Town Council fixed that at their Thursday meeting, voting 4-1 to enact a new ordinance entitled “Parking on Town Streets.” Only Councilman Frank Wendell opposed it. The only question before the vote also came from Wendell, who asked Town Manager Brent Manuel about VDOT’s approval of reverse angle parking, which was done by telephone. Wendell asked for the name of the VDOT official, but Manuel said he did not recall.

Following the meeting, Cape Charles Police immediately began ticketing wrong-way parkers, to the anguish of Mason Avenue merchants and, eventually, Mayor George Proto, who a month earlier sounded concerned when Police Chief Jim Pruitt reported to Town Council that nine parking tickets were written the first week after the new lines were painted on the street. “The town did not do this to make money,” Proto said at the time. This makes the second time Proto is asking the Police Force to stand down on ticketing and to void the tickets they have written.

But some damage has already been done. One story circulating on Mason Avenue is that a man parked front-ways to run into Gull Hummock to buy a case of wine. When he came back to his car he found a ticket, which made him so mad that he carried the wine back into the store, asked for his money back, and promised never to shop again in Cape Charles.

One merchant observed a police car parked in front of the medical center for over an hour with the engine running. Whenever the policeman saw a “wrong-way” parker he would immediately walk over and write a ticket.

Town Manager Manuel also announced that backwards parking would be implemented on Bay Avenue as well beginning this fall.


Members of Cape Charles Business Association turned out in force for the June 18 Council meeting, but none of them spoke against the town’s new parking policy. Instead, the focus was on the loss of the contract by one of their own for the tourist website “Cape Charles by the Bay.” Town Manager Manuel awarded the website contract June 2 to Cape Charles Wave LLC, which also publishes the Wave newspaper. The tourism website is currently managed by Donna and Greg Kohler, who were instrumental in its founding two years ago. The website began with grant funding but now operates at town taxpayers’ expense. The Kohlers submitted a bid of $9,790 for another year, while Cape Charles Wave LLC’s bid was $5,300. [Read more…]


PSA Briefing: Still No Agreement with Cape Charles

Cape Charles Wave

June 22, 2015

When the county’s Public Service Authority meets in a joint work session with Northampton Board of Supervisors today, the story will be the same as the past two years: still no agreement with the Town of Cape Charles on rates and fees for sewer service in the vicinity of the Cape Charles traffic light.

The joint meeting starts at 5 p.m. (June 22), followed by a regular meeting of the PSA. The public may attend but not speak at the joint work session, but public statements will be allowed at the regular PSA meeting.

The PSA will report to the Board of Supervisors on the status of the engineering tasks and will provide an estimated cost for the project and a construction timeline. The PSA will also provide an overview of the negotiations with Cape Charles about wastewater treatments costs and hookup fees. No agreement has been reached, with a major sticking point being the hookup fee. The PSA doesn’t want to charge county customers a hookup fee, while the town argues that since new town customers have to pay the fee, so should county customers.

Discussion will also include a special tax district and whether service will be mandatory for customers in that district. Back in 2012 the county allocated 25 percent of estimated construction costs from the general budget. But would-be commercial customers balked at having to shoulder 75 percent of constructions costs, and the PSA has been urging the county to assume a larger share of costs. A bond issue would be backed by the county.

One of the drivers of the whole commercial sewer plan is the hope that Harmony Investments will build a hotel on property it owns on Route 13 in front of Kings Creek Landing. According to County Administrator and PSA Executive Director Katie Nunez, Harmony Investments already has a special use permit for a mass drain field there, so the hotel could be built with or without a sewer pipe to Cape Charles. Nunez told the Wave she is not aware of plans to move forward with building a hotel at this time. Harmony Investments also owns the Sunset Beach Inn and Grille near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. [Read more…]


Historic District Board OKs Elevator, Deliberates Satellite Dishes, Plans Home Tour Featuring Sears Houses

Cape Charles Wave

June 22, 2015

A request to install a residential elevator at 600 Pine Street came before the town’s Historic District Review Board June 16. The American Disabilities Act states that adding items such as elevators and ramps to historic buildings should be done “in full compliance with the alterations standards for other types of buildings.” But, if following the usual standards would threaten or destroy the historic significance of a feature of the building, alternative standards may be used.

According to Town Planner Larry DiRe, town historic guidelines are “silent” on elevators. If elevators are considered as “modern features,” then locating one at the rear of the building “where they are least likely to detract from the character of the site” is appropriate per the guidelines.

According to the applicant and the contractor (J Street Construction), the elevator would be installed at the rear of the house, with an entrance near the garage. The structure will be completely enclosed. The total footprint is about 40 square feet and will be located “exclusively within the current driveway.”

The contractor’s drawings supplied to the board were not to scale; however, they did include “detailed information about the materials to be used for the project.” The contractor noted that he understood the rigid nature of the Historic District, and that he would “build it to look just like it had always been there.”

The applicant informed the Board that the main reason for the elevator was due to physical issues being experienced by his wife, and it would make it much easier for her to be able move about the home (avoiding having to use stairs to get to the 2nd and 3rd levels, where the main living areas are located).

The elevator will be an electric model, which will not require a ground shaft or hydraulics, thus limiting the amount of fluids that accumulate as part of the elevator operations. Although J Street Construction will build the structure, the elevator will be installed by a certified elevator installation crew.

The board approved the certificate. [Read more…]

WAYNE CREED: Is Reverse Parking a Communist Plot?

Cape Charles Wave Columnist

June 22, 2015

As Cape Charles is once again menaced by the threat of International Communism, inflammatory statements (aka the Truth), as well as the Virginia Department of Transportation, town citizens that value freedom as a state much prized within the realm of civilized society, the very stuff and pith of all we hold most dear to our hearts, have taken to the streets to protest the bloody implementation of reverse angle parking — an offense which, many feel, has been unfairly inflicted upon the earthy, owl eyed harbingers of truth, must meet its reckoning, and not a moment too soon.

For the record, the process to achieve higher density parking in Cape Charles began a year ago. The discussions began before the sale of the Be-Lo property, and the loss of overflow parking there. Even though this is a “Town Issue,” nothing happens on that street without the Virginia Department of Transportation. After several public Planning Commission meetings, VDOT’s consensus was that if there was going to be angle parking, it was going to be of the reverse angle variety. The Planning Commission’s recommendation was completely consistent with the VDOT edict. Even though there was ample opportunity for citizens to comment, none, including prominent citizen Schulz, was there to take issue and voice their views. It was later determined that the citizenry could not attend said meetings due to laborious and time consuming efforts aimed at addressing the aggravated lack of Pol le Veq, Porceileu, Savoy Aire, Sampolan, Carrier de lest, and Bres Bleu cheeses at the local Food Lion.

Faced with prime, blue ribbon apathy, and no citizen input, as well as chunks of modern (from this century) theory and research seeming to promote reverse angle parking as the hottest new chick at the dance, the Town rightly or wrongly, boldly and audaciously accepted the opinion of persons with some qualifications, and acquiesced to VDOT’s yen to paint reverse angle spaces on Mason Avenue. [Read more…]


LETTER: Don’t Turn County into a Dumpsite

June 22, 2015

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The letter below was sent June 18 to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors from Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns, who has requested it be published in the Wave.) 


As a resident of Northampton County since 1998, I respectfully join those who object to a rezoning ordinance that would allow commercial chicken facilities into the county. I understand Tyson and Perdue have proposed building 50 chicken houses in Northampton County as soon as possible. I urge you to reject their proposals. The chicken industry is a major source of environmental degradation on the Eastern Shore. Drive through Accomack County and you can smell the oppressive odor of the chicken industry. Drive through Accomack County and you see the sick and suffering chickens going up and down Route 13 and on the back roads. Is that what we want in Northampton County? I stand with those who say No.

Twenty years ago the Washington Post reported that the Delmarva Peninsula produced a million tons of chicken manure a year, enough to fill a football stadium. Now it is even worse. Do we want to turn Northampton County into a dumpsite for manure piles, rodents, flies, air pollution, and other unwholesome consequences for county residents to cope with? If we care about the people who live here, and the land we occupy, the answer is No.

Regarding the manure storage facilities and poultry litter incinerators, a report by Food & Water Watch, Poultry Litter Incineration: An Unsustainable Solution, says the incinerators produce toxic air emissions and will likely be subsidized by taxpayers. Toxic air emissions cited in the report include carbon monoxide, CO2, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, volatile organic compounds, dioxin, particulate matter and the arsenic compound nitarsone. Do we want all this fecal pollution and pharmaceutical residue in a county whose residents, including children, already suffer from high levels of chronic respiratory infection? [Read more…]


Supervisors Hear Continuing Opposition on Rezoning

This flier being circulated by Northampton County rezoning opponents stresses that anyone who does not register his or her opposition to county rezoning plans will be judged to be in favor of the rezoning.

This flier being circulated by Northampton County rezoning opponents stresses that anyone who does not register his or her opposition to county rezoning plans will be judged to be in favor of the rezoning.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that County Supervisors have postponed any action on rezoning until January 2016. But as pointed out in a comment by Ken Dufty (see below), the Supervisors merely extended the window by six months because it otherwise would have expired.)

Cape Charles Wave

June 15, 2015

Despite continuing outspoken opposition to rezoning proposals, the Northampton County Board of Supervisors appears set to enact the sweeping measure in advance of November elections — perhaps as early as June 29.

Elections this November will ensure at least one new Supervisor on the Board, because Larry Trala is not running for re-election. And if Spencer Murray succeeds in unseating Board Chairman Rick Hubbard there will be two new Supervisors. Murray is strongly opposed to the rezoning proposals as presently constituted.

Two candidates have filed for Trala’s seat: Robert Grayson Duer and Gwen Cummings-Thompson, both of Exmore. The latter’s position on rezoning has not been revealed, but Duer is known to be opposed.

The only sitting Supervisor opposed to the rezoning is Granville Hogg, but if two like-minded candidates join him on the Board in January, they will have a majority, and the Board could be expected to march in a new direction.

The possibility of a dramatically different Board come January might well have influenced the decision by Economic Development Director Charles McSwain, who is believed to be resigning next month. McSwain has taken the most heat from rezoning opponents, followed by County Administrator Katie Nunez.

The flier above is representative of the efforts by rezoning opponents, led by Ken Dufty and supported by a host of well-known residents including Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore (CBES), Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper, a prominent Realtor, a marine biologist, and a former Planning Commissioner, all of whom spoke at the June 9 Board meeting.

At that meeting, Supervisors once again encountered the full force of opposition to the proposed zoning changes that many feel could destroy the rural nature of the county. The core issues remain protection of the environment, as well as the overall rural character of Northampton — that is, just what will happen if setback changes, PUD (Planned Unit Development) and altered rules for impervious surfaces are put in place. What will happen if large-scale CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and waste incinerators, mainly poultry operations, set up shop on the lower end of the shore? [Read more…]


Prominent Resident John Schulz Blasts Council for ‘Dumbest, Most Dangerous Parking System in America’

reverse angleCAPE CHARLES WAVE

June 15, 2015

Cape Charles resident John Schulz is well known as an author and former Voice of America foreign correspondent. He also has been an Oxford scholar, National War College professor, magazine editor, and a prize-winning poet. But only now has he made the decision to break ranks with the town’s power structure and roast them for enacting “reverse angle parking” on Mason Avenue.

In a letter to Cape Charles Town Council which Schulz requested be made public record, he wrote satirically,

Dear Council Members: Congratulations! Thanks to your well-thought-through decision, we can all now brag about yet another unique feature of Cape Charles: We have the dumbest, most dangerous main street parking system of any town in America.

Thanks to all of you, anyone wishing to park on our commercial main street can now experience all the thrills and adventures associated with turning into oncoming traffic in the opposite lane, reversing, and, though most of us never practice skills at backing into parking places, begin the adventure of re-crossing into the lane we were in. And, hoping not to scrape the cars parked on either side due to our limited skills at this little adventure, slide our cars into place — also hoping not to drive up on to the curb where we might kill a passer-by we didn’t see in our rearview mirrors.

And, for those of us thoughtful enough to go to the end of the block, do a U-turn, and drive head first into the parking space we previously selected, thus avoiding all this maneuvering and extra lane-crossing, there is a parking ticket “just waiting to happen,” hot in the hands of our local constabulary. [Read more…]


Two County Supervisors May Have Conflict of Interest

June 15, 2015


The June 9 meeting of the Northampton County Board of  Supervisors was rather lively.  As this would be the last time that residents could address the BOS before staff sends the rezoning scheme out for public comment, many speakers took to the podium to relay their opposition to the widespread plan to industrialize our farmland, among other changes. Those commenting included three former planning commissioners, a marine scientist, two heads of local civic organizations, and other landowners who feared their investments in this county were being jeopardized.

Nearly all of the speakers questioned the Board’s motives for changing the land use rules which currently protect property rights and our limited natural resources (the aquifer and clean coastal waters), all without our consent.  Near the end of the citizen comment period, I addressed the Board with what I thought might be in part driving the changes, and I appreciate this opportunity to more fully flesh out my presentation.

Shortly after buying our building next to the Post Office in Exmore in 2008, during a meeting of a local citizens group we became aware of a project called the Exmore Energy Project.  The plan was announced at that meeting by a representative of the Bay Coast Railroad.  The proposal was called a “Bio Diesel plant” and would manufacture a diesel additive by refining waste oil from the Norfolk Oil Transport Company.  The waste product would be railed to the site (next to our shop and in the middle of town), mixed with methanol and other additives, heated, filtered, and stored.

As I had experience with these oil refineries while working for county government in our rural upstate New York county, I quickly concluded that the project was not a good fit for the middle of a business district.  Working with other citizens in the town and Virginia  DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality], we encouraged Bay Coast and the Norfolk concern to abandon their plans. [Read more…]