A Cape Charles citizen has appealed the August 15, 2017 Historic District Review Board decision that approved a large home at 8 Bay Avenue. Erin Harvey of 340 Randolph contends that the home violates existing zoning ordinances, and also sets an inappropriate precedent for Bay Avenue. Harvey told the Mirror, “I wish them (home owners) no ill will and hope they do make a happy home in Cape Charles (just not quite so big).”
The Town Council will hear the appeal on Thursday October 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm in the Cape Charles Civic Center, located at 500 Tazewell Avenue.
Below is the letter and request for appeal:
It is my understanding that the Historic District Review Board on August 15, 2017 approved a proposed expansion of the house currently located at 8 Bay Avenue. It is my understanding Town Council reviews such approvals and may choose to overrule their decisions.
This letter is my notice of an appeal of the decision regarding 8 Bay Avenue for the reasons outlined below. I would greatly appreciate the Council taking the time to review all of the relevant facts (FYI – all data below was provided to me by Town Planner or Commissioner of Revenue in Eastville).
The building plans submitted for 8 Bay Avenue show a house that includes a total area of 9,239 square feet, including 9 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms. This is far larger than any other home ever constructed within the historic district.
On page 4 of Article III of our Zoning Ordinance, it stipulates that “new construction and additions be compatible, sympathetic, and complementary to existing buildings.” It goes on to say that “the proportions of new construction should relate, 1:1, to the prevailing standards present in the neighborhood. Comparing new construction to the existing structures in a neighborhood is to see the 1:1 proportion of the building to another.”
Existing homes in the residential zone on Bay Avenue are already some of the largest homes in the historic district:
•204 Bay Ave (3429 total square feet)
•212 Bay Ave (3900 total square feet)
•306 Bay Ave (3600 total square feet)
•8 Bay Ave (9,239 total square feet)
All of these existing homes which are quite large would pale in comparison to the size of the house proposed at 8 Bay Avenue; the comparative ratio for these largest of homes would still be well over 2:1. Other homes in the neighborhood would reach 4:1. (The largest structure in the area is the old hotel at 1 Mason Avenue, but even that includes just 6011 total square feet. Furthermore, it is a hotel, not a residence, and it is in the harbor district, which is generally more permissive and allows for much larger buildings.)
Because of its size, this home would be considered a “monumental” structure and has been described as such by our Town Planner. Our historic district guidelines give specific direction regarding structures of monumental size, stating that “When designing new buildings, respect the scale of the town, which is generally at a human, as opposed to a monumental, scale. The buildings are not very tall or wide or large; their size does not overwhelm pedestrians on the street level.” … and regarding scale … “use a scale for churches or public buildings that conveys their importance. For these buildings only, monumental scale may be appropriate.” This home is larger than even our other structures which would be expected to be monumental. For example, Cape Charles Christian School, which includes Hayward Hall, was a large old church and it has only 5801 total square feet.
In order to build such a large structure, the property owners have vacated the lines for three adjacent properties, joining them into one large parcel. Cape Charles already has multiple precedents for properties built across three lots in the residential district, with every one of those structures remaining at a size that would be consistent with other homes in town:
•530 Randolph Ave. (17,807 square foot lot – 3700 total square feet for B&B)
•302 Fig St. (26,002 square foot lot – 4,011 total square feet for B&B)
•704 Monroe Ave. (15,276 square foot lot – 1855 total square feet for house)
•306 Bay Ave. (16,870 square foot lot – 3600 total square feet for house)
•8 Bay Ave. (16,546 square foot lot – 9,239 total square feet for house)
I do not know the owners of the property in question and have no animus towards them, but it is clear that the house plans they have submitted conflict with our town zoning ordinances and our historic district guidelines. I ask that you please exercise your power to reject the proposal and request that they submit new plans that reduce the size of their planned home (or homes if they choose) in order to stay within the zoning ordinance and the historic guidelines of our town. I understand you must convene a hearing to consider this appeal.
I respectfully encourage you not to set what I and many of our other residents believe is a wholly inappropriate precedent on what is probably the single most visible block of our town.