The Cape Charles Town Council voted against a proposed zoning request seeking a transition from Industrial to Harbor district zoning. The decision, made after a series of public hearings and discussions, marks a significant stance on the town’s development trajectory and its dubious commitment to preserving its coastal identity.
The proposal, presented by Eyre Baldwin and Cherrystone developers aims to repurpose a 1.4 sliver of the Industrial district into a Harbor zone, which would make the zoning consistent with the adjacent property already owned by the applicant. According to Mr. Baldwin, the new zoning is aimed at facilitating mixed-use development, including commercial ventures, residential spaces, and recreational amenities. Proponents argued that this shift would invigorate the area, attract new businesses, and diversify the town’s economic landscape.
Councilman Grossman and Bucholz disagreed and noted that they did not see the point of changing the zoning when the sliver is wedged between light industrial parcels. The town’s future land use map also indicates that there is a large conservation area abutting the property–no development can occur on this parcel; it is planned to be part of an open space area that could provide public access to the harbor. Baldwin argued that the open space while limiting development, could work with his parcel if it was developed as a camping area, small hotel, or short-term rental property.
The decision resonates with the town’s ongoing efforts to maintain a marginal and low-bandwidth equilibrium between development, heritage preservation, and approved future uses.
Cape Charles has a rich history, marked by its industrial roots intertwined with its coastal location. Balancing economic expansion with the conservation of its cultural essence remains a priority for locals.
Problematic – The discussion indicated that Councilman Steve Bennett has been working from the inside on this issue. Mr. Baldwin, in a moment of frustration, inadvertently blurted out that Bennett had been in contact with another developer regarding this issue. This probably should have been more transparent.
The motion failed with a vote of 3 to 1. Bennett, Holloway, Butta yes, Bucholz no.