Bay Creekers Say No to Chickens in Historic District

This fancy backyard chicken house in the Historic District stands empty, awaiting a decision from town officials. (Wave photo)


September 29, 2014

Last week the Wave reported the results of a “chicken survey” (CLICK) conducted by Town Planner Rob Testerman: 39 respondents opposed backyard chickens, 35 were in favor, and 7 wanted more information. But the Wave noted that 20 of the responses came from Bay Creek property owners, even though the backyard chicken ordinance would apply only to the Historic District. Bay Creek makes its own rules, and chickens are not allowed. The survey results did not break out Bay Creek respondents, so there was no way to know if the Creekers were skewing the results.

At last Thursday’s work session of Town Council and the Planning Commission, Council member Sambo Brown wanted to know what the survey results would be if Bay Creek responses were eliminated. Planner Testerman didn’t have that information at his fingertips, but he supplied it the next day: Of the 55 Historic District responses, 31 favored backyard chickens, 20 were opposed, and 4 said “maybe.”

That’s a significant change: overall, only 47 percent said yes to backyard chickens, but when the Bay Creek vote is removed, the yes percentage rises to 56 percent. Even more telling, the opposition drops from 52 percent all the way down to 36 percent.

This is not the only time that Bay Creek residents have had a hand in making rules that do not apply to them: Creekers hold 40 percent of the seats on the Historic District Review Board, which must approve any construction in the Historic District but which has no purview in Bay Creek.

Creekers enjoy even more power on the Planning Commission, which also has no jurisdiction in Bay Creek. Nevertheless, the chairman and the majority of members of the Planning Commission reside in Bay Creek. [Read more…]


Drowning Does Not Merit Bickering and Finger-Pointing


September 29, 2014

Upon reading Wayne Creed’s well written article in the Wave September 22 (CLICK), I couldn’t help but feel a certain sense of sadness and disappointment all at once. As the son of a Cape Charles native and grandson of a former Cape Charles town manager, mayor, and business leader, I feel a special connection to Cape Charles. From its perfectly aligned and tree-shaded streets to its small-town America vibe, Cape Charles has a unique panache that cannot be duplicated.

However, not unlike many boom towns across this great country of ours, Cape Charles has not been without its troubles. From its earliest days, this southernmost enclave on the Eastern Shore has seen fortunes come and go with the tides that frequent its shores. Starting with the railroad that placed Cape Charles on the map, to the Bay Creek development that practically saved its future and then almost lost it again, the town knows a thing or two about recovery.

This summer has been a particularly trying season for the area. Starting with the disastrous and deadly tornado that ripped through Cherrystone, it was quickly followed by the tragic drowning death of Uvihin “Ace” Horton at the public town beach. In the days and weeks following Horton’s death, the people of this town have quietly begun the process of introspectively digesting what happened and how it possibly could have been prevented. The death of anyone by drowning, much less a child on vacation, is a horrific tragedy. It further highlights the risk we all take when enjoying the prolific expanses of nature that surround our peninsula.

In Mr. Creed’s article, he rightly questioned why the town has not installed some type of safety measures beyond a sign that is posted on the dunes nearest the Gazebo. Life guards, more safety signs, a daily posting of high and low tides, and floats attached to rope indicating the outer limits of safe swimming are all good starts. However, beyond these suggestions is where I draw the line in agreeing with Mr. Creed’s assessment of the town’s handling of the drowning, their attitude towards safety, and the overall climate of the town’s current state of affairs. [Read more…]


The War Years (Part 4): Women Proved Their Mettle


September 29, 2014


On the home front many men were gone into the military. There was a need for people to enter the work force and do the jobs that the men left behind. Who else but the women to fill these slots and to work in factories making such things as jeeps, trucks, B-17 bombers, rifles and so many other products?

With many husbands now earning “21 dollars a day, once a month” as GIs, where they used to bring home $35 a week, there was a need for extra income. The women were magnificent!  The plants building war items flew on their flag poles a letter “E” for efficiency awarded by the government. Even far more important the women were forced to manage the household budget, pay the bills, taxes, mortgages, or rents and raise their children by themselves long before “single moms” existed. Some men owned businesses and it fell on the wives to take over the business and put in the hours that required so when the war ended the business was still there.

Andy Kless had a little dining car on Springfield Avenue, and when he was in the Navy, Mrs. Kless took over, cooking, washing dishes, etc. Andy was a friend of mine and when he returned home the business was in good shape. Andy got a GI loan, removed the old dining car, and put in a beautiful shiny new diner. He later bought two more new diners in Irvington, but when the town went to ruin the one diner was moved to Beachwood where it now stands. Adele Joa in Pine Beach, NJ, took over Mack’s Tavern on Highway 9 in Bayville while her husband was in service.

Another side of this was that the mothers and wives were not hardened by the horrors of being on a battlefield, and provided a nurturing, warm, loving environment for the children and the returning veterans. Civilized nations did not send their women off to war. During and after the war we had women in service; my wife was in the USAF, but we didn’t put then in harm’s way. In the Korean “Conflict” we were capturing and holding as POWs women from the Chinese Army. We were horrified that women would be sent into combat! Now we are doing the exact same thing. Even worse, we have fathers and mothers both in service and both being deployed with grandparents watching the kids. There is talk of reinstituting the draft and now a possibility of drafting girls. Like they say, “we’ve come a long way baby,” and I for one don’t like it at all. [Read more…]


THURSDAY 11/27: Golf Cart Raffle for Eastern Shore Spay Organization

Eastern Shore Spay Organization (ESSO) is raffling a golf cart to help purchase a “Neuter Scooter” for the Eastern Shore. The drawing will be Thanksgiving Day at 10 a.m. on the steps of the Civic Center. Mayor Proto will pull the winning tickets. [Read more…]


ESO Classes for Week of September 29

ESO ARTS CENTER, 15293 King Street, Belle Haven, 757-442-3226, [email protected]

POTTERY FOR KIDS with Elizabeth Hunt — Mondays, Sept. 29 to Nov. 10, 4 to 5:30 p.m. Children learn to express and execute their personal visions in clay while having fun! Class includes hand sculpting and wheel techniques to create unique design pottery or sculpture for beginning & intermediate young ceramists. Stock materials are supplied. Cost for 6 Weeks $130 plus $10 firing fee.

ESO WRITERS’ WORKSHOP with authors Lenore Hart & David Poyer — Tuesdays, Sept. 30, 2014 to Dec. 2, 7 to 9:30 pm. A community writing workshop for aspiring and published writers of fiction and creative nonfiction, providing reading of work, group discussion and critique, and editing & publishing advice from two authors with almost 40 published books between them. Beginning to Advanced Level, ages 16 and up. Cost for 10 Weeks $220. [Read more…]

Bay Creek Property Owners Get Tax Scare

Northampton County legal notice threatens sale of Bay Creek private roads for back taxes.

Northampton County legal notice threatens sale of Bay Creek private roads for back taxes.

Cape Charles Wave

September 22, 2014

It took a few months, but an obscure legal notice published June 6 in the Eastern Shore Post finally attracted the attention of Bay Creek property owners when they heard that the private roads they drive on might be sold for back taxes.

The legal notice listed 47 properties owned by Bay Creek LLC, the company owned by Richard “Dickie” Foster. Most of Foster’s former holdings have been sold to Keyser-Sinclair, operating as Bay Creek South LLC. Another portion – the former Bay Creek Marina, Shops, and Aqua Restaurant – was foreclosed and sold to Robert Occhifinto in December 2012.

More than half the properties listed in the legal notice are lots on Stone Road coming into town that have nothing to do with Bay Creek other than that Foster owns them. Those lots have now been conveyed to another entity, “HJ Rail LLC,” also wholly owned by Foster — but the tax is still overdue.

Before the Stone Road lots were listed to be sold for back taxes, Foster offered six other Stone Road lots to the Town of Cape Charles for $100,000, and the town bought them for the asking price. The terms of sale required the $100,000 to be applied against Foster’s delinquent tax bill, both to the town and the county. [Read more…]


WAYNE CREED: Drowning Might Have Been Prevented


September 22, 2014

Many summers ago, I remember walking out from the Cape Charles beach, hoping to take a swim. It was neap tide, and the water was barely up to my knees, so, like an idiot, I just kept walking. Eventually, I found myself up to my waist, than up to my neck in water. It was then that I felt the pull of the current, and in a moment, was pulled into the channel.

“This is weird,” I thought. I grew up near Virginia Beach, and have spent a lifetime dealing the rips from Cape Cod to Sebastian Inlet, so I was easily able to swim back to shallower water. My son Joey could not swim, and although my daughter Rachel was a strong swimmer (thanks to her swim coach granddad), after that episode, I was going to keep an eye on both of them.

When I mentioned this to some born-heres, they assured me that, “Oh yes, you can certainly drown out there. Some already have.” A few years later, I caught Joey (now 10) and his friend Daniel walking away from the beach, and I knew exactly where they were heading. I had to put down my beverage and run them down before they went into the channel. Probably not the best parental role model, I grabbed their arms and cussed them out good that day.

The tragic drowning of Uvihin “Ace” Horton this summer may or may not mark a sea change in how the Town approaches beach safety. The national attention of this tragedy may finally force the Town of Cape Charles to put into practice the basic safeguards that exist in beach towns all up and down the East Coast. Lifeguard stands, whistles, and new warning signs will certainly be welcome, but it will not alter the facts. Cape Charles has done much to lure tourists here, yet even as it was well aware of the dangers posed by drowning, it did nothing to protect them.

The shallowness of the beach creates a false sense of security, so if you don’t point out the dangers, how are people from out of town supposed to avoid them? I know a lot of folks want to sweep this under the rug and pretend it never happened. I understand, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. The Town of Cape Charles was negligent: Ace Horton did not have to drown. The words “Use the beach at your own risk” scrawled at the very bottom of the beach rules sign may or may not relieve us of any liability, but it will not wash the blood off our hands. [Read more…]


Residents Respond to ‘Urban Chicken’ Survey

These hens had to leave town while officials deliberate whether they can come home. (Photo: Stefanie Hadden)


September 22, 2014

Results are in for the Town of Cape Charles “Urban Chicken Survey,” which asked residents their opinion on whether hens should be allowed in town. Town Council and the Planning Commission will hold a work session to discuss the results Thursday, September 25, at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center (Old Library). The public may attend but not speak.

Responses were tabulated from 75 property owners, 20 of whom own in Bay Creek, which has its own rules prohibiting chickens that cannot be overridden by Town Council. Bay Creek responses are not shown separately from Historic District responses. Of the 75 responses, 39 oppose backyard chickens in town, 35 support them, and 7 want more information before making a decision.

Here are the respondents’ comments:


1. As the dollar is increasingly undermined, raising food will become paramount.

2. I have concerns about the portion of the population that is allergic or highly allergic to chicken feathers, but this is balanced by my support of vegetable gardening and other sustainable homesteading practices.

3. 3-4 chickens [maximum].  NO ROOSTERS. Must be housed in a clean, movable, at least partially covered coop.

4. We have worse eyesores in this town than clean, egg-producing chickens.

5. At this point a fairly large number of urban communities throughout Virginia and the United States allow residents to keep a few hens. They have done this for a number of good reasons. It’s great to know where your food is coming from. Chickens provide natural fertilizer. Chickens eat insects. I encourage Cape Charles to allow owners to raise a few chickens. On a separate note, there seem to be a number of folks in Cape Charles that just let their dog wander around the city. Dogs should be with their owner when they are outside, unless they are in a fenced yard.

6. I feel that chickens are fine but a limit to 6 per lot should be enforced. Chickens have proven to be a great way to control bugs and ticks. Chickens are very interesting and make great pets while providing a variety of benefits.

7. There is no harm in keeping a few chickens as pets or whatever you prefer to call them, or rabbits as long as they have enough room and do not disturb the immediate neighbors.

8. Having observed “up close and personal” chicken keeping in a fenced residential setting I wholeheartedly support the idea and the practice as long as the guidelines set by the town are followed. I built my little “granny cottage” on the rear of my daughter’s home and was interested to learn about and interact with her six hens. My grandsons helped care for the chickens, helping to build and paint their very artistic chicken coop, changing their bedding every day, helping to feed and water them every day and gathering the daily fresh eggs. The chickens naturally went into their coop at sundown every day and were in general very quiet. They did come to “visit” me as I sat on my swing in good weather. They got along well with my two cats — the kitties did not chase the hens. I observed the hens pecking at and eating bugs out of my garden and would settle under a bush to rest. Occasionally they would hop up on my swing to say hello and to softly talk with gentle clucks, and study, this human creature, which I enjoyed. The hens were definitely good pets and educational for the boys. And, the very fresh eggs they provided every day were delicious! We did not keep our hens for slaughter, only for the companionship and education they provided. At 74 years of age, my only prior interaction with chickens was when I was a child, observing my grandmother running after one of her chickens with a cleaver in her hand. So I was entranced by our fascinating chicken pets, their place in our family and in our fenced yard, and would recommend the practice of keeping a few hens to anyone. [Read more…]

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