Strawberry Street Corridor Project and Former Northampton Hotel OK’d by Harbor Review Board

Front porch has been removed from old Northampton Hotel. (Wave photo)

Front porch has been removed from old Northampton Hotel. (Wave photo)

Cape Charles Wave

April 27, 2015

The Cape Charles Harbor Area Review Board reviewed two high profile projects April 20 — the former Northampton Hotel at 1 Mason Avenue, and Patrick Hand’s Strawberry Street Corridor project. Both projects mean a lot to the rehabilitation and restoration of the Mason Street business district as well as to the overall historic character of Cape Charles itself.

Mr. Hand has applied for a review for new construction of  a mixed-use development consisting of 20 one-bedroom residential units above commercial units on the cleared site of the old Meatland building. On April 14 the Board of Zoning Appeals approved four variances to the application after approving a demolition permit last December.

Harbor Area Review Board Chairman Ralph Orso questioned whether the applicant would be able to honor the variances following a VDOT site line inspection. It appeared the project could lose some parking spaces, dropping total parking to 38 or 39 spaces, while 40 spaces are required for the variance. Hand assured the Board that his engineer was working on the issue, and they were confident they would be able to achieve the 40 space total required. “Even with these slight changes, besides all the parking, we are still going to be able to keep the same amount of open and green space,” Hand said.

Board member Joan Natali wanted assurance that utility wires would be buried underground. Hand pointed out in the architectural drawings that not only would the utilities be underground, but that metering equipment would also be concealed inside a room. Natali also voiced concern regarding the roofline, which guidelines require to have a differentiation in height across the façade. Hand noted that due to the design, there was going to be a series of offsets from the façade that, from a “pedestrian perspective,” would provide a good bit of noticeable change in the roofline. [Read more…]

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SHORE THING: Eastville Inn Fails Again

Eastville Inn’s bumpy ride in recent years reflects the difficulty of making a living from running a restaurant on the Eastern Shore.

Wave Columnist

April 27, 2015

A little shy of two years ago, Eastville resident and Wave student journalist Sarah Gollibart wrote an article entitled “Eastville Inn Rises Again.” It went on to become one of the Wave’s most-read stories of the year, so I know that a lot of folks are interested in the Eastville Inn.

But after the Inn shut down again on March 24, I started wondering, just what does it take to run a successful restaurant on the lower Eastern Shore? If the Eastville Inn can’t make it, who can – and how?

The Eastville Inn is a good case study because on paper at least it has so much going for it. Start with a historic building (c.1724) in a quaint town. Add proximity to the courthouse and county seat government center. Top it off with a talented chef/owner (Brent Schmidt) who bent over backward to make his venture special and inviting.

So what went wrong? The quick response might be that Chef Schmidt’s nouvelle cuisine wasn’t the local clientele’s cup of tea – either in taste (light), portion (small), or price (high).

But wait a minute – those were some of the same causes attributed to the Eastville Inn’s failure two iterations earlier.  Following that shutdown, a local team converted the Inn’s format to kind of an upscale Exmore Diner. But that didn’t work either – the former clientele didn’t like it, and the hoped-for new customers stayed at Yuk’s.

So I’m thinking that the Eastville Inn’s woes are not of its own doing but rather reflective of the whole lower Shore. This is a tough market! Follow me up Route 13 and see what I mean. [Read more…]


Historic District Review Board Approves Projects, Considers Paint Colors and Satellite Dishes

Cape Charles Wave

April 27, 2015

In 1954, the Supreme Court case of Berman v. Parker set a precedent which allowed local governments to “tear down an old building to improve a neighborhood.” This landmark case oddly led the way for the modern preservation movement.

The case was heard during the beginnings of the urban renewal movement, which sought to rehabilitate blight in America’s cities. Essentially, the ruling implied that aesthetics was enough to finally enforce a historic district’s preservation efforts. That is, a historic district could endeavor to protect historic neighborhoods based on visual importance.

From the early attempts creating historic districts, such as Charleston, Savannah, or New Orleans, several key concepts have evolved, such as to protect significant historic properties against the threat of development, to encourage development in an older area, to maintain property values, or to create a brand or image of the place.

Of course, there is the economic effect. Don Rypkema, in The Economics of Rehabilitation, states that historic reinvestment can generate tax credits and can establish a new and higher depreciation schedule, extend the property’s economic life, and achieve a better quantity, quality, and durability of the income stream. Also, it can stimulate tourism, private, increased property values, property values and sales tax, create jobs and compatible land use patterns.

On April 21, town officials in charge of this preservation effort, the Historic District Review Board, met to revisit the Certificate of Appropriateness for each of two properties, 1 Mason Avenue (The Hotel), and 205 Jefferson Avenue. [Read more…]

‘Incredible Exploits of an Effervescent Elf’ Opens May 16

Arts Enter had a pic of a cute 'Future Prima Ballerinas' rehearsing for the play 'Incredible Exploits of an Effervescent Elf''

Future prima ballerinas rehearse for “Incredible Exploits of an Effervescent Elf’.”

April 27, 2015

Arts Enter at the Historic Palace Theatre presents the newest danceable drama created by Amy Watkins and Wayne Creed and performed by the Arts Enter School of Dance and other local thespians.

Performances are Saturday, May 16, 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 17, 3 p.m. at Historic Palace Theatre, 305 Mason Avenue. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children, and may be purchased immediately before performance at the box office. [Read more…]

LETTER: Chicken Houses Will Lower Property Values

April 27, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: Professor Art Schwarzschild submitted the following letter April 20 to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, asking that it be made public record.

Dear Members of the Northampton County Board of Supervisors, Planning  Commission, and County Staff,

I would like to start this letter with an apology for the tone of my  last letter which questioned the motivations behind what I saw as the  mysterious insertion of the new zoning use, “Event Venue,” into the  revised draft zoning proposal.  That being said, I believe it is important for you to understand that  the back room procedure being used to write and repeatedly tweak the  proposed zoning changes with little to no public involvement or explanation has led many Northampton County residents to question the  motivations behind the proposed changes.

Once again, I would remind you of the comparison between the procedure used to create our current zoning code and this ongoing and confusing  process.  During the previous process the public was invited and  encouraged to attend zoning work sessions in order to help craft a new  comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance.  These public work sessions  were run by the County Planning Director and Planning Staff with  additional support from paid consultants.

Members of the PC and BOS were  in attendance at each of these meetings to witness public input.  Scientific data, Economic Reports and Case Studies were presented and used as guides to ask citizens what they wanted to see in Northampton  County and to help provide a realistic road map for us to achieve these  outcomes.

In stark contrast, I have seen no data, surveys, or case studies used to support the multitude of zoning changes being  proposed.   What’s even worse, these changes have often been presented  in a confusing and misleading manner. [Read more…]

LETTER: Lost Foreign Trade Zone Status Is Tragedy

April 27, 2015


On October 23, 2012, you published my commentary, Expert Warns Eastern Shore: Special Trade Zone Status Slipping Away. Now it has happened.

As Virginia political leaders decide whether President Obama deserves fast approval powers for two massive trade agreements, the entire Eastern Shore has lost a valuable global trade incentive overlaying properties at Wallops Island (Site 14), Accomack Airport (Site 15), and in Cape Charles (Site 18).

I warned your community this might happen back in 2012. Your specially designated U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone sites are gone. However, the State of Virginia continues to promote to investors and traders an incentive that no longer exists. A Northampton County economic development staffer continues to mislead inquirers that it’s simple to regain designation. It’s not. Your congressional delegation and local elected officials repeat the same misleading information. [Read more…]

TUESDAY 4/28: Public Invited to CBES Annual Meeting at Little Italy

The public is invited to the annual meeting and social for Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore and Virginia’s Eastern Shorekeeper at Little Italy Restaurant in Nassawadox on Tuesday, April 28. Reservations are required for the optional dinner at 6 p.m. but not for the free program beginning at 7 p.m. The program invites the Eastern Shore community to explore  “Green is the New Gold: Ecotourism on the Shore, Protecting & Priming our Economic Engine.” [Read more…]

FRIDAY 5/1: How CBES Got Its Groove Back

Science and Philosophy Seminar of the Eastern Shore of Virginia will sponsor “How CBES Got Its Groove Back,”  a free 90-minute seminar, at 12:30 p.m. Friday, May 1, in the Lecture Hall of the Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa. Donna Bozza will explore the journey of a grassroots organization, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, from its passionate conception to its commitment to community 27 years later. [Read more…]