During a recent Cape Charles Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Andy Buchholz slammed his fist on the dais and proclaimed that he was sick and tired of locals drawing a dichotomy between old Cape Charles and Bay Creek, “It’s one town,” Buchholz said. Commissioner Sandra Salopek echoed that sentiment, stating that something needed to be done to bridge the gap between residents of Bay Creek and the Historic District. To say that there is a schism is an understatement—outright disdain is more appropriate. Buchholz and Salopek are of course disingenuous in their desires. Essentially they are asking that residents of the Historic District absolve Bay Creek of its sins. Given that this entity has reneged on so many promises, is there any way to really let it go and move on?
The latest thumb in the eye is Bay Creek’s hoodwinking of VDOT and the taxpayer by not paying its share of the connector (RT. 642) expansion. Originally, Brown and Root arranged for the purchase of the Martin Parcel and were to provide for the Connector Road. Along those same lines, Fig Street was to be extended, but that never occurred either.
Original proposals included that the PUD development was to encourage a ‘community of interest’ with the Town to make sure entrances and approaches to and from the North Tract and South Tract were seamless and invited the concept of a much larger and engaged Town. The concept of the ‘community of interest’, which turned out to be a bait and switch, was a determining factor with the Commission on Local Government – it is covered in their 72 page report with 190 footnotes. This was also reviewed by the Special Annexation Court and its judges.
The general problems and lack of faith in the developers ever being able to follow through on the agreements was well understood at the time. The then and now current County Attorney Bruce Jones, whose name and signature are on many of the documents, was the County attorney who attempted to defeat the annexation petition. The County had many problems with the petition to annex, such as the utility system upgrades and expansion to meet Bay Creek’s capacity, the extension of Fig Street, the Connector Road, etc.
While Mayor Proto tends to act like he knows or understands nothing about the Annexation Agreement, it may be time to bone up on Town history. Town Council members (former mayor) Sullivan and Vice Mayor Chris Bannon may be able to help. See the letter below, sent to the developer in 2009, signed by then Town Manager Tim Krawczel. Town Attorney Mike Sterling was also CC’d on this correspondence:
When the Special Annexation Court approved the Petition, it based its decision on the Town being able to achieve the population and the tax base it intended. The stipulation went by the wayside in 2006 when the developer abandoned Marina Village East development, as were the obligations of the Common Areas, left unfinished and eventually deeded to the HOA. Another question is where Planning and Zoning, as well as Code Enforcement has been relative to the PUD document – the Town Municipal Ordinance in the Site Plan Zoning Ordinance states that if construction is not underway after Town approved platting occurs within 5 years, (MVE was platted in 2004) no Certificates of Occupancy can be issued without a new construction permit being filed and or appealed. Also, the fine is $500/day per lot. In terms of future development, how would someone build on the abandoned 112 vacant lots without a guarantee of a Certificates of Occupancy, as well as trust that there will be capacity for water and wastewater hook-ups?
In previous years, the County has reportedly commented that many of the previous understandings somehow were either forgotten or intentionally misrepresented. Such as, why were gates installed in some but not all entrances? In fact, why were gates being installed at all?
Sources tell the Mirror that Baymark Construction did not want to pay as the developer to buy the gates until a sufficient “number of people actually moved in”. In the end, Baymark had the HOA pay for their gates in an advertised and marketed ‘gated community’. The gates were a contentious issue in the Iberville et al v. Bay Creek et al Settlement. The installed gates do not function, and the Fig Street entrance is not a ‘gate’, but rather a non-functioning lift arm. The term a ‘gated community’ appears to be applied generously.
There was a method to the madness. In order for the planned community (PUD) to be effective, Brown and Root needed a few necessary things from the Town: Water, sewer, and police/fire (public safety). That is why the annexation petition was required, because without basic municipal services, Brown and Root could not sell the 2,000 acres as a residential, recreational planned community. Although the streets in Bay Creek were not conveyed to the Town (they are maintained by the HOA members who pay assessments), the Town’s public safety jurisdiction applies and according to the Report by the Commission–Town would need to increase its police department to patrol the streets in Bay Creek.
With those basic needs met, and after stiffing the Town, Bay Creek could now be marketed as a ‘gated-community’. But what was the purpose of locking the gates? Were people afraid of local citizens? Did they not want to mingle or interact with townsfolk? Or if they did, only ‘out there’, but God forbid never ‘in here’? The divide between the two towns found its genesis here– a ‘we’ – they’ atmosphere was created and still exists. As one resident of the Historic District recently told the Mirror, “They will never be part of Cape Charles, as long they hide behind that gate, and don’t pay what they said they would pay. We’ll never see it. If the Town wants them to live up to the deal, one way is to give them until January 1st…after that, cut off water and sewer to the place. Then see.”