From staff report: Town Council received a petition from the property owner at 640 Washington Avenue (corner of Fig Street and Washington Avenue) for relief from the strict application of Town Code Chapter 62, Section 62-4. The property owner did install a sidewalk along the lot frontage on Washington Avenue, which connects to the existing sidewalk ramp. Being a corner lot there is the requirement to install a sidewalk along the Fig Street lot frontage as well. All sidewalks are constructed in the VDOT right of way and require VDOT land use permit before beginning work. All newly constructed sidewalks must meet the current VDOT standards. The petition cites specific existing conditions within the VDOT right of way on Fig Street as the grounds for requesting relief.
The ordinance which the owners seek relief is Town Code Chapter 62, Section 62-4 which states that the town council “may require and compel the owner of property within the town to construct or maintain sidewalks abutting on the property of such owner along existing streets” and that the town may “constitute a charge upon the property and the collection thereof may be enforced in the same manner as is provided by law for the enforcement of the collection of taxes on real estate in the town.”
The contention of the homeowners is that since the sidewalk is in the VDOT right of way it must be constructed to VDOT standards–but, VDOT wants them to tie the walks in line with the next available sidewalk:
Subject: Waiver of requirement for sidewalk
Our names are Larry and Pam Reynolds and would like to request to be placed on the agenda for the scheduled town council meeting on May 17 2018.
We recently completed construction on our new home located at 640 Washington Ave. The home is located on the corner of Washington Ave and Fig St. We have completed the required sidewalk in front of our home on Washington Ave and were informed that a sidewalk may also be required on the Fig St side of the property. We have consulted with Larry DiRe with the town of Cape Charles, and Dale Pusey, the Area Land Use Engineer for VDOT, has been to the property on 3 occasions in an attempt to find a feasible location for the sidewalk. Because of the existing obstructions on Fig St there seems to be no clear answer to how this sidewalk could be built. As of my last conversation with Mr. Pusey his only suggestion was that it would have to be in line with the next available partial sidewalk that is 2 blocks to the south beside Wendell Dist between Madison and Monroe. This would place the sidewalk in a line that would cover a space that would cover between 12 foot and 17 foot from the curb on Fig St. That would make the edge of the sidewalk at eye level approximately 7 feet from our living room, dining room, and bathroom windows. It would then continue past our screened in porch and end at our property line at our neighbors shell driveway on Jefferson Ave. With Mr. Pusey’s help I have used flags and taken photos the
route the sidewalk would take, the obstructions on Fig St, and also the line the sidewalk would have to take if it were to ever be connected to any existing sidewalk in Cape Charles.
We feel that the construction of this sidewalk would involve an excessive cost and the loss of privacy for us and just be a sidewalk to nowhere with little or no practical function to our home or to Cape Charles.
At the May Town Council Regular Meeting, interim council member Cela Burge argued that the current language in the ordinance was not definitive, that the town does not have the statutory authority to compel the Reynolds to install a sidewalk. During the discussion, it was determined that the issue would require legislative action, rather than administrative. It was determined that the town’s legal advisors should investigate just what the actual authority of the town should be. The current ordinance dates back to the 1930s.
While Mayor Proto stated that he wished to table the request until legal had reviewed it, Burge countered with a motion that Reynolds could not be compelled to put in the sidewalk and that the town, at its expense, could build it if it wanted, noting that 5-foot setbacks would be enforced. The motion passed unanimously.
A sidewalk for the entire length of Fig Street is needed. The traffic is greater there than in other parts of the town.
Diane D'Amico says
“While Mayor Proto stated that he wished to table the request until legal had reviewed it, Burge countered with a motion that Reynolds could not be compelled to put in the sidewalk and that the town, at its expense, could build it if it wanted, noting that 5-foot setbacks would be enforced. The motion passed unanimously.”
We built our house in 2015 on the corner of Jefferson and Nectarine. We were required by the town to put sidewalk on two sides of our home at our expense and to meet VDOT requirements. The sidewalk goes nowhere and is just as close to our home as the Reynolds would be. At the time we offered to give the town cash to build a sidewalk elsewhere that would connect two existing sidewalks but we were turned down. If the
Reynolds are not required to put a sidewalk on Fig but only on Washington then I will be requesting a refund from the town for our portion of the sidewalk on Nectarine at a minimum and perhaps for the portion on Jefferson as well if indeed Cela Burge is correct in her reading of the ordinance.
Nioaka Marshall says
Everyone else who builds a house is required to build a sidewalk ( including Mayor Proto). Why should there be an exception in this case? Invade their privacy? Put some curtains up. They knew about the sidewalk prior to building their house. If they couldn’t afford it, they should have built elsewhere.
“Put some curtains up”? If I ran for town council and only got 20 votes I guess I would be looking for somebody to take out my frustrations on too. At least you beat the 4 write-ins. Anybody who,s thinking about living in Cape Charles keep in mind this will be one of your neighbors. Sad,sad,sad.
Nioaka Marshall says
And how many votes did you receive?
Charles Taylor says
Maybe the owner can be allowed to contribute a pro rata amount for construction of sidewalk on east side of Fig Street where there may be fewer obstructions in this area.
Deborah Bender says
Basically the town figured out a way to make everyone else pay for the sidewalks. I agree that if everyone else has to do it so should these people. On the corner of Tazewell and Fulcher Street that new house had to pay for sidewalks to nowhere!
Slide Easy says
They are all ‘Sheep’…programmed to obey.