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.


Why Is Downtown Losing 160 Parking Spaces?


April 24, 2014

At the conclusion of the March Town Council meeting, the Council held an executive session to discuss possible land acquisitions. It was explained that a developer, Patrick Hand, intended to buy the old Be-Lo grocery store property and the two adjacent parking lots. If he were to buy the property he would be willing to sell the town two 40’ x 105’ lots for public parking at the east end of the property and also property for a pedestrian mall in line with Strawberry Street in between two proposed buildings. But the town and Mr. Hand were unable to agree on a price. And even if the town did buy the two lots for parking, that would only supply 40 parking spaces, with a resulting loss of approximately 120 parking spaces. This would be a tremendous setback to all the merchants who have experienced a downtown resurgence of the past two years.

Mr. Hand is to be commended for his willingness to further invest in Cape Charles and for his shrewd business skills. The Town of Cape Charles, on the other hand, once again has a lot of unexplained missteps as to how we suddenly will be without the use of over 160 off-street parking spaces in the middle of our downtown/commercial district. And what do we do going forward to compensate for the lost use and at what cost?

At the April 7 Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, Mr. Hand explained that he had been working with the mayor, three members of Town Council, and some members of the Art Walk committee for six or seven months on his downtown project. So while the mayor and three Council members had been privy to the developer’s plans for six or seven months, three other members of Council had not.

I asked Mr. Hand who the three Council members were that he had been working with. He replied that he would rather not say.

Mr. Hand was seeking variances from the town on setbacks for construction, balconies, open space requirements, and most notably reduction of off-street parking requirements. The following Monday the Board of Zoning Appeals granted all four requests.

I have a few questions to ask at tonight’s (April 24) Town Council meeting: [Read more…]


FRIDAY 4/25: Blessing of the Fleet Schedule of Events

The 7th Annual Blessing of the Fleet begins 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 25, at Cape Charles Town Harbor.  That morning a Navy yard patrol craft is scheduled to arrive at 9 a.m. and will offer public tours from noon until 4 p.m.

The 5:30 p.m. ceremony begins with the National Anthem sung by Emily Guemple.

Master of Ceremonies is U.S. Representative Scott Rigell.

Coast Guard Station Cape Charles will provide the Color Guard.

U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen will conduct the Throwing of the Wreath.

Live Music by HM Johnson will follow from 6-9 p.m.

Seafood dinners will be sold by the Cape Charles Volunteer Fire Department.

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