Final Appeal Tonight on Hotel Cape Charles

Cape Charles Wave

February 21, 2013

The scene: A 1950s movie. Two teenagers in hotrods are playing a deadly game of chicken on a deserted dark highway. As they roar head-on toward one another, one of them has to swerve. If neither gives up, they both die.

Tonight, the Town of Cape Charles and Hotel Cape Charles face off in their own version of “chicken.” Either one party wins and the other loses, or if neither side gives in, they both go down in flames.

The stand-off is over the design of the hotel building — specifically the glass-walled balconies. When hotel owner David Gammino originally submitted his design proposals to the Town’s Historic District Review Board, the balconies were shown in wrought iron, and that’s what the Board approved.

Gammino later changed his mind, but never advised the Board. And although the Town was supposed to monitor the construction, no one noticed that the building didn’t look like the approved design until it was too late.

The hotel received a temporary occupancy permit, allowing it to open last summer. Meanwhile, the Historic Review Board instructed Gammino to go back to the drawing board and come up with balcony walls that looked more “historic.”

Gammino dutifully sent new architectural drawings showing wood surrounds on the glass. But the Review Board rejected the proposal, and turned the case over to Town Council.

And so tonight, six citizens who have never claimed any expertise in historic architectural style will determine whether Hotel Cape Charles is allowed to reopen. [Read more…]