Outlet Mall, Holiday Inn on Route 13?

Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek

Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek

Cape Charles Wave

June 7, 2013

Cape Charles Assistant Town Manager Bob Panek briefed the Town Planning Commission June 4 on wastewater treatment and development-related possibilities on Route 13 near the Cape Charles traffic light.

“One of the things this area needs is a hotel,” Panek said. “Something like a Holiday Inn, a Hampton Inn. To my way of thinking it’s no threat to the B&Bs or Hotel Cape Charles, it’s a completely different market.”

Cape Charles could attract a lot of people who “don’t want to pay $200 a night in a B&B,” Panek said. “There is a market for that $80 a night [room].”

Panek noted that the Ultra Triathlon which had been scheduled in Cape Charles for September 7 had been canceled, which he blamed on lack of hotel space. (However, Town Manager Heather Arcos told the Wave that organizers canceled the Triathlon after learning that a similar event would take place elsewhere the same weekend.)

Another development the assistant town manager envisions just outside Town limits on Route 13 is “a little outlet mall like Tanger Outlets up in Ocean City or Williamsburg, that type of thing,” Panek told the Planning Commission.

“One of the complaints I’ve heard from people vacationing here is that some of them get pretty bored,” Panek observed.

Town Council and Planning Commission member Joan Natali agreed: “There’re not enough places to shop,” she said.  To which Panek responded, “You can’t buy a pair of underwear in the Town.”

But Commission member Andy Buckholtz worried that Route 13 development “would be driving people out of town or keeping people from driving into town. The whole purpose of this Planning Commission is to drive people into this town,” Buckholtz emphasized.


Commission member Dan Burke predicted that “if they build a Rite-Aid [on the highway], then we’re going to lose our drugstore.”

Panek conceded that Rayfield’s Pharmacy could be threatened by Route 13 competition, but he maintained that most other Mason Avenue businesses would not be harmed.

Commission member Buckholtz is also vice president of the Cape Charles Business Association, which requested Town Manager Arcos to address the group’s annual meeting last month and to hear the Business Association’s concerns about Route 13 development.

Neither Arcos nor her assistant, Panek, attended the meeting. Instead they sent Jen Lewis, the Town’s recreation director.

At the beginning of her presentation to the Business Association May 21, Lewis stressed that she would have nothing to say about Route 13 commercial development and wastewater treatment offered by the Town. That would have to be discussed in a separate meeting, Lewis said.

No such meeting has yet been scheduled, although Arcos did tell the Planning Commission that she and Panek “were talking about having a public input session, having a meeting with the Business Association.”

Panek wears many hats. In addition to his part-time job as assistant town manager, he is chairman of Citizens for Central Park, currently involved with building a park bathroom.

Panek is also chairman of the Northampton County Public Service Authority, formed to expand wastewater treatment in the County.

Panek is the driving force behind a proposal to pipe sewage from various commercial properties on or near Route 13 to the Town’s wastewater treatment plant.

“The plan is to service commercial properties between Cape Charles and Cheriton around the [Cape Charles-Route 13] intersection and fund that system with tax money,” Panek told the Planning Commission. He estimated the startup cost to taxpayers would be between $1.5 million and $2 million.

The PSA has been developing the plan for several years, but after Town Councilman Frank Wendell was elected last year, he objected on the basis that encouraging Route13 commercial development was contrary to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan, which reads: In public sessions, citizens stated that they want commercial growth located in town, rather than on Route 13.

In reaction to Wendell’s complaint, Panek wrote a letter from the PSA asking the Town to confirm that it would accept wastewater from areas outside the Town, beginning with commercial properties around the US 13/SR 184 (Stone Road) intersection.

In response, last August 9 Town Council approved a motion by vice mayor Chris Bannon “to confirm to the PSA the Town’s willingness to utilize the Cape Charles wastewater treatment plant for areas outside the Town’s boundaries.”

All Council members except Wendell voted in favor of the motion. No public hearing was held on the issue.

At Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting, Buckholtz, a new member, asked if the issue had ever been reviewed by the Planning Commission. Chairman Dennis McCoy replied that it did not go to the Planning Commission because it is “not under the Commission’s purview” since Route 13 corridor property is outside Town limits.

Virginia Code states: Any municipal plan may include the planning of adjacent unincorporated territory to the extent to which, in the municipal local planning commission’s judgment, it is related to the planning of the incorporated territory of the municipality.

The Annexation Agreement between Cape Charles and Northampton County signed November 25, 1991, states: The County acknowledges that the Town . . . has concerns about the potential impact to the existing business districts within the towns of Cape Charles and Cheriton caused by commercial development along the Route 184 corridor and at the traffic light on Route 13(page 4, paragraph 8)



Outlet Mall, Holiday Inn on Route 13?”

  1. Pete Baumann on June 7th, 2013 6:35 am

    Commercial development along Route 13 is a gateway to development within the various municipalities. 99% of the cars travelling Route 13 never turn off. If more people are around, more people will find their way into Cape Charles. As long as businesses in direct conflict with local businesses are not opened. I’m not sure how to accomplish that, possibly by encouraging commercial landowners to record restrictive covenants that take note of the Comprehensive Plan and address the issue in an acceptable way.

  2. Kearn Schemm on June 7th, 2013 7:07 am

    Any commercial development needs to be done IN the town. I agree with Panek that you can’t buy many things (not just underclothing) in the town. We need life in the town, not on the highway, which will just kill the center. Malls kill the center of a town. Who benefits from the cultural and architectural deadness of a mall?

    Let’s try to get a few small stores that will serve our local needs in the center. What does Mr. Rittenhouse think of a new hotel as a next door neighbor, by the way?

  3. Allan Burns, ESVA Welcome Center on June 7th, 2013 8:34 am

    So there is no confusion about our Tangier Island neighbor, the reference by Mr. Panek to “a little outlet mall like Tangier Outlets” should be a corrected to read “Tanger Outlets.”

    Thank you! Correction made. (Wonder if Tangier Island would get more tourists if they put in a Tanger Outlet Mall?) –EDITOR

  4. Deborah Bender on June 7th, 2013 8:35 am

    Having lived in Onancock at the point that Four Corner Plaza expanded in size I can tell you first hand what will happen if we encourage business on the highway. It will KILL CAPE CHARLES BUSINESSES!

    Sure we need more businesses in town, but it is very hard for a small business to survive in the winter. It is sad to say but a lot of locals do not shop local. Most of the people that live here go across the bay because everything is sold at a much lower price.

    When I opened my store I bought everything locally that I could; however, most people go after better prices. I could afford to shop local, but most people want to open a business with the least amount of overhead.

    No Mr. Panek — we do not need to go to the highway with the “pipe”!

    Keep Cape Charles the sleepy little town that the tourists come here looking for. Encouraging highway businesses will surely hurt our town in the long run.

  5. Stefanie Hadden on June 7th, 2013 10:10 am

    Cape Charles should insist on utilizing empty, architecturally important and charming buildings instead of letting those who own them let them rot. Witness the fabulous Storybook style cottage out near Stone Road — been for sale forever, owners getting away with windows being busted out, etc. Soon it will crumble, while the property owners wait and wait for their price. A shame! Same for the abandoned fish packing building across the street — now THAT would make a fabulous antique mall with a tiny artisanal bakery/coffee shop. . . . The wild success of Brown Dog Ice Cream proves that there is a market for high end goods in Cape Charles. I have inquired numerous times about rents to open a small shop but cannot afford even the smallest space. The gaping maw that is Meatland needs to be dealt with! Enough coddling of whoever owns that land. (I understand they also own the OTHER gaping maw right on Mason!) It is a scar upon our town, smacks you in the face first thing as you drive in. There are zillions of tiny, isolated towns that are packed with great cafes, fabulous shops, artists and craftspeople creating wonderful handmade goods, and Cape Charles just can’t figure out how to attract and keep those innovative kinds of places. Just because a business has been here a long time doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to roll with the times, update and innovate. Generic development out on 13 (to a point) will not threaten a robust community of businesses as long as those businesses have something unique and special to offer.

  6. Gary Williams on June 7th, 2013 10:13 am

    I relocated to Cape Charles (Bay Creek) in January and absolutely love the area. Cape Charles, in my opinion, is a diamond in the rough. I am planning on opening a Custom Engraving & Glass Etching business in town later this summer. However, one of my biggest concerns is not having enough customers to support my business. I agree with Mr. Panek that more commercial development is needed on Route 13. Businesses need customers in order to thrive. Yes, some businesses may be hurt by this but many more will reap the economic benefits of increased business. If all we only want to maintain the status quo of being a sleepy little village, then prevent new business growth. However, if we want to increase business growth, both in town and on Route 13, we need to encourage commercial development. This will increase tax revenue for the Town and the County without having to raise individual taxes and will allow Cape Charles to make the improvements indicated in the Town’s Master Plan. We need a plan that will attract commercial growth to our area and give people more reasons to visit Cape Charles and the surrounding communities. It’s time for economic growth.

  7. Roger L. Munz on June 7th, 2013 11:03 am

    Follow the money! First the Town builds a Cadillac wastewater plant saddling Town residents with $5,000,000 of debt that requires a $216 per year increase in our water and sewer bills, and this week we get a tax hike. Now the Public Service Authority wants to use tax money to pay to run a line out to Route 13 businesses. Are we that stupid? THE USERS SHOULD PAY, OR DON’T HOOK UP!

    People of Cape Charles, wake up, get your heads out of the sand. Enough is enough! Demand that Town Council stop foolishly waisting your tax dollars. They should read the Town of Cape Charles laws and Comprehensive Plan, and if they can’t govern the Town utilizing those documents, then they should resign or wait and be replaced at the next election.

    I urge Town residents to find a slate of people whose primary directive is to TRIM THE FAT in Town government, beginning with a 15-20% cut. Sadly I cannot be a candidate, for health reasons, but you can. So get involved! WE MUST STOP THIS $$ STEAMROLLER NOW OR SUFFER WITH MUCH HIGHER TOWN LIVING COSTS IN THE FUTURE.

    It would seem the trend of ALL government entities is to expand and grow, at the taxpayers’ expense. We who live in Cape Charles must reverse this trend, NOW.

  8. Robin Brownley on June 7th, 2013 12:31 pm

    I think Cape Charles is a wonderful town for what it is. But what about a local grocery store. Food Lion is our only choice, which should not be. No food except snack or quick meals, no ” real ” clothing other than beachwear or souvenir type. All of these these things boaters have to go out of town for plus locals have no reason to come in for.

  9. Mike Kuzma, Jr on June 7th, 2013 12:58 pm

    Mr. Williams, rental rates are impacted by availability and scarcity.
    As long as CC keeps putting municipal offices along Mason avenue, the rents will not stabilize. Demand is greater than supply.
    That bank building? Several I’ve seen turned into restaurants, shops etc…
    The Fire house and Town Hall? More that could be developed into commercial space, thereby denecessitating the Rt. 13 development. All we’d need is a billboard announcing a complete Mason Avenue shopping district.
    Of course, the most appropriate building to accept the Town Hall, Library and Fire Dept. administrative offices — Old School Cape Charles — is no longer avaialble for use.
    As for the comment by Ms. Hadden, she is correct. Use it or lose it. I’d say the “land-banking” aspect of forestalling their development has come and gone, so let’s get them up and running.
    As for the impact that highway development can have on an off-highway town, simply drive up to Accomac and look in the parking lots on 13. Almost all the plates are out of state, on their way through.
    Cape Charles must be made a Destination, not a “neat idea” for an hour’s shopping and lunch.

    Just my two cents.

  10. Debbie Suddeth on June 7th, 2013 1:26 pm

    I say the town should focus on purchasing the rundown buildings from these out of town investors that refuse to do anything with them. Then repair these buildings so local businesses can set up shop and offer additional commodities that we need. Kill two birds with one stone — beautify our town and offer additional goods and services at the same time. As nice as we think our town is, these rundown buildings are an eyesore and take a lot away from the town. These buildings need to be a priority. With new stores in beautifully restored buildings we can sell our own stinking underwear!

  11. Beth Ann Sabo on June 7th, 2013 2:54 pm

    think “inclusive” not “exclusive”

  12. Debra Rief on June 8th, 2013 7:53 am

    I moved here 5 or so months ago from the midwest and these are just my thoughts: It seems odd that you turn off the main road to go downtown; I didn’t feel like it was well pointed out. And there’s not really a connection between the beach and town. Maybe if you put a big walkway (on the south maybe) from one to the other and added a few small shops on the south side of the road it would bring it together. And put more signs for the stores. Just a thought. Oh, and big signs on Route 13 about the beach. And that cute little brick building coming into town would be a great tourist start. :) I wanted to go to the beach but had to be told where it was and had to look for the stores.

    You can go to a mall anywhere, but you don’t get the cool mom and pop stores of the beach. Just saying.

  13. Deborah Bender on June 8th, 2013 9:26 am

    Many years ago that cute little building coming into town was a gas station/convenience store. Much later it was a beautiful gift shop. But then the owner raised the rent sky high, and the woman with the gift shop closed up :-( for good. Now the people that own it will sell it but the price is pretty high last time I heard :-( Most of the buildings in town that are for rent are way too high. I was very lucky when I had my shop — the rent was super low and the landlords were great people.