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.