The Cape Charles Town Council has given the nod to an amendment in the town zoning ordinance. This amendment opens the door for the potential redevelopment of two lots situated behind the municipal library, setting the stage for a strategic transformation of that section of town.
The decision comes as a result of a Resolution of Intent passed by the Town Council, aligning with the Town Zoning Ordinance and Virginia Code §15.2-2286 (A) (7). This resolution authorizes the staff to initiate the required paperwork to rezone Tax Map #83A3-1-644 & 83A3-1-641 from Commercial-1 to Residential-1.
The rezoning initiative is intricately tied to the larger Library Building Project, which encompasses the redevelopment of the library building and associated lots. Proposals were sought and reviewed, with a focus on ensuring that any development aligns with the character of the surrounding neighborhood, particularly along Randolph Avenue—a main corridor leading to the downtown area and beachfront.
After consideration, the Town Council concluded that a commercial or high-intensity residential development on the two lots behind the library was not in harmony with the character of the neighborhood. Consequently, the decision was made to rezone these lots as Residential-1, reflecting a commitment to preserving the distinctive features of Randolph Avenue (Historic District).
The rezoning process was initiated when the selected developer, City and Guilds, was in negotiations with the Town. However, the developer has since modified the proposal to exclude the two rear lots. While the rezoning timeline for these lots is not as pressing as when they were part of the initial library project, the Town remains committed to finding an appropriate future use.
Historical Context and Property Overview
A survey of the library property, acquired in December 2012, sheds light on the historical significance of each parcel. The library building itself, previously a bank since 1934, is part of this historical landscape. The open lot behind the library once referred to as the “Chesapeake Hotel Property” serves as parking for the library building.
The two lots in question (83A3-1-644 & 83A3-1-641) with road frontage on Randolph Avenue were purchased in the 1943-1945 period. Their historical context adds layers of significance to the ongoing discussions surrounding their rezoning.
Addressing Current Uses and Easements
During the public hearing, several business owners addressed the need to retain access to the back alley as a way to ensure that deliveries and trash removal can continue. Acknowledging informal agreements regarding the use of the lot behind the library in recent years, Town Manager Hozey and Zoning Administrator Nunez noted that the town is committed to addressing these matters during negotiations with potential purchasers of the library property. The town noted that they have no intention of removing the easement that runs behind those businesses, and access to the alley is a priority. Those issues will need to be taken up by the Town Council in the future. The easements on the Randolph frontage lots require attention, either as part of a third-party development plan or through a more efficiently designed easement from Pine Street.