The Town of Cape Charles has been lobbying Northampton County officials to find a way to manage new development along the State Road 184 and 642 corridors, which the town refers to as the Historic Town Entrance. Of note, these parcels are considered town edge and are under the planning and zoning of Northampton County.
Town Council and the Board of Supervisors met last October to discuss ways to work around town edge zoning and provide Cape Charles with a way to manage the look and feel of the entrance to town. Members of the Board of Supervisors, including Chairman Spencer Murray stated that Cape Charles was vital to the county, and that understanding the town’s concerns as it pertains to the development along the entrance corridors was important. While it was understood that businesses on 13 would inherently be competing with businesses in town, an effort to have the architecture of any development be more sympathetic to the historic nature of Cape Charles instead of the metal buildings such as the Dollar General was worthwhile.
The Planning Commission has reviewed the zoning ordinance sections that apply to the Commercial – 3 District which may provide an “acceptable design of future new construction”. The staff report notes “That zoning district is considered part of the Town’s entrance gateway.” While the current County zoning ordinance has a one size fits all approach to ‘Town Edge’, the hope is that both the town and county planning commissions could come together to hammer out an unique, ‘Cape Charles Town Edge’, tailored to the unique requirements of this location.
Below are the current design standards which Town Council could use as a basis for future discussions with Northampton County officials:
Article III, Section 3.6.F.1.e Materials. New construction should use materials in a manner sympathetic to the historic buildings in the Town of Cape Charles. Materials should be of similar or complementary color, size, texture, scale, craftsmanship, and applicability to function performed. It should be noted that the sympathetic use of materials does not imply that materials used in new construction will replicate the old in detail nor that new construction will attempt to imitate historic structures. Rather, it is a matter of determining the compatibility of the new with the old. Certain materials are potentially so visually intrusive that their use for new construction in the Town will not be permitted. These materials include: aluminum or vinyl siding; asphalt siding; carpeted porch floors and steps; corrugated metal,except for roof applications; exposed concrete block above foundation level; exposed concrete masonry;faux brick and stone (brick face); flush exterior doors; inappropriate window treatments; jalousie windows; picture windows; windows with horizontal glazing; metal or wood awnings; open mesh-type fencing; ornamental pierced concrete masonry screens and walls; painted concrete masonry; unpainted wood; vertical plywood siding; vertical wood siding on primary structures; wrought iron and aluminum porch columns.
Article III, Section 3.6.F.1.g Utilities Upon installation or replacement of utility access lines, such lines shall be installed underground.
Article III, Section 3.6.G.1 Architectural Treatment No building exterior (whether front, side, or rear)will consist of architectural materials inferior in quality, appearance, or detail to any other exterior of the same building. Nothing in this section shall preclude the use of different materials on different building exteriors (which would be acceptable if representative of good architectural design) but rather shall preclude the use of inferior materials on sides which face adjoining property and thus might adversely impact existing or future development causing a substantial depreciation of property values.No portion of a building constructed of unadorned concrete or concrete block or corrugated and/or sheet metal shall be visible from any adjoining agricultural or residential district or public right of-way.Mechanical equipment whether ground level or roof top shall be shielded and screened from public view and designed to be perceived as an integral part of the building.Article III, Section 3.6.G.4 Outside Storage Areas All outdoor storage areas shall be visually screened from public streets, internal roadways, and adjacent property. Screening shall consist of either a ventilated solid board fence, masonry wall, dense evergreen plant materials, or such other materials as may be approved. All such screening shall be of sufficient height to screen storage areas from view.Outdoor storage shall include the parking of all company owned and operated vehicles with the exception of passenger vehicles.