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…]

Don’t Ignore Mason Avenue Parking Needs


April 14, 2014

Local developer Patrick Hand has an idea to redevelop the old Be-Lo grocery store property on Mason Avenue. There is no question that the old shuttered grocery blights the streetscape of Mason Avenue. No one can argue against having a nice new building on that lot. But with important matters to consider about the proposal, Town Council has thrown caution to the wind.

At a recent Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, Mr. Hand said that he approached some members of Town Council six or seven months ago about his plans for the property. He proposed selling some of the property to the town for public parking, but he and Town Council could not agree on a price. But rather than ask townspeople what they want, Council cut off negotiations.

Then Town Council decided to buy seven empty lots on the entrance to town. Why did Council think it was more important to buy those lots from Dickie Foster than to purchase parking on Mason Avenue?

Residents, homeowners, shop owners, and some members of Town Council were left in the dark about the Be-Lo proposed project until just a few weeks ago. Most of us only heard about the plan at the March Town Council meeting. Later, a few adjacent property owners received a letter about the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting held last Monday. Mr. Hand’s proposal has never been raised with the Planning Commission or the Harbor District Review Board. It seems that they are only needed when it is time to pull out the rubber stamp.

For going on 20 years the parking lots at the old Be-Lo store have been available to the public in Cape Charles. They have been used for parking to attend functions at the Palace Theatre, to shop on Mason Avenue, and to eat at the Coffee House, as well as other uses. Where will tourists and shoppers park when those lots are closed? [Read more…]


LETTER: News Reporting Should Be Unbiased

April 14, 2014


Perhaps like many of you, I grew up in a time when most news outlets operated under the Golden Rule. Television and radio stations were mandated to devote time to contrasting views on matters of public interest. They were also required to offer equal time to political candidates with opposing views. The policies that required this applied only to radio and television but, in simpler times, were a standard for all journalism. Unfortunately these policies were repealed in 1987.

While none of these rules were ever mandated for newspapers, many people still expect the news to be delivered in an unbiased fashion. Reading your April Fool’s story and subsequent postings made it very clear that the Wave has a political agenda and is actively promoting a particular point of view.

The right to vote is sacred and it is the duty of voters to learn as much as they can about all candidates and issues prior to voting in any election — national, state, or local. In every election, it is important to get information from multiple sources.

In Cape Charles, all of the candidates live just a few blocks away. We have the opportunity to watch how they volunteer their time in our community. We can speak to them directly and ask their opinions. We can attend Town Council meetings and candidate forums. It is only by knowing both sides of a story that we can be sure that we vote for what is best for our future.

Cape Charles

Letters to the Editor are welcome, and a diversity of opinions is encouraged. Send submissions to [email protected].


ORAL HISTORY: Questions for David Mitchell

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

April 14, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days.  A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave.  All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)

David Mitchell speaks April 12, 2001


[Audience]: “What are you doing now?”

I do odd jobs.  I cut grass.  Mrs. Restine was the first person I cut grass for and I did it up until she died.  In fact, I bought my first lawn mower in 1959 and I’ve been cutting grass ever since then.  I don’t go out and look for work, it’s just a few people I do it for.  As I told the man the other day, I don’t want to go out and them tell me I need to get a license.  It’s a charitable thing mostly.  This young fellow [indicates Clarence Smaw] over there, he helps me out at church.  He’s retired from the railroad.  He said he noticed at the church anytime they needed somebody to do something, they always called on me.  He said, when I retire, I’m going to help him.  So he’s been 100%.  This other young man [indicating James Braxton], he’s at the church, we’ve been pals for many, many years.

We used to go out once or twice a year for a day, just the three of us.  The driver was the only one who knew where they were going.  Sometimes you could change your mind, but nobody would know because you were the only one who knew where you were going.  Like what happened to him, he was going to work on a Monday morning and we were out on a Sunday run.  He said, isn’t it something, I’ve got to come right back up the road tomorrow and go to work.  He worked up in Delaware.  Well, I was heading up that way, so when I got in Delaware, I turned and changed my plan and went to Baltimore.  I didn’t want to go over the same route he was going to go over!  We would just have a lot of fun riding, talking, and stopping with no particular place to go and no time to get there.  We used to do it quite often, but after my son got sick and my wife’s mother got up in age, she had to look after her.  We haven’t been out, but we hope someday soon we will be.

I had a fun experience with Herb Lovitt.  He and I used to have a little talk about different things and I would disagree just to get him wound up.  He got a little upset one night, got a little rough. I was riding with him — one night I would drive carrying us to work and he would drive the next — I said to him, “You wait until we get home and I’m going to tell you something.”  He was very quiet all the way home and he didn’t know what was going to happen.  So I got out of the car and just said, “So long, Herb, have a nice day!”  And he was shocked. [Read more…]

TUESDAY 4/15: Public Invited to Annual Conservation Meeting of CBES and Shorekeeper

The public is invited to attend the annual meeting of Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, in the Nandua High School auditorium in Onley. The Virginia Eastern Shorekeeper will co-host the event. [Read more…]