“The Town of Cape Charles participates in the Certified Local Government program and in so doing demonstrates a commitment to keep what is significant from the past for the benefit of future generations. The architectural integrity of existing structures shall be recognized, and future development shall be compatible” –town staff report.
The Planning Commission and Historic District Review Board met in a joint work session in January to discuss reconciling language in the zoning ordinance with that of the revised historic district Guidelines document, in particular, dealing with the use of vinyl siding in the Historic District. The Planning Commission voted to add vinyl siding to the list of construction materials prohibited in the Residential – 1 zoning district.
Town Planner Larry DiRe provided these notes:
• The March 1996 Preservation Plan cites the need for “flexibility” and “creativity” in the historic district, while diminishing the value of “rules” as “authoritarian.” This early and foundational preservation document shows a fundamental disconnect from other approaches taken by the Town of Cape Charles, and a general organizational culture of close scrutiny, command, and control.
• Legislative adoption and\or application of the 1996 Preservation Plan principles has been uncoordinated, disconnected, and infrequent. This unsystematic approach to integrate this foundational document, combined with frequent duplication of other jurisdictions’ documents, has made for a generally inconsistent approach to regulating the historic district.
• The 1996 Preservation Plan, the zoning ordinance, and Guidelines (revised and adopted in 2017) are consistent on the treatment of aluminum siding, but inconsistent on vinyl.
• Siding material choice is a considerable cost for any building project. A public record review dated from December 2001 (Article VIII adopted) to January 2018 showed no economic hardship appeals from any property owner in the historic district overlay.
• Vinyl siding has been approved for both new construction and renovations to existing buildings in the historic district in the past.