On March 22nd, the Town Council, Planning Commission, and Harbor Area Review Board will hold a joint meeting to discuss the Harbor District, focusing on the all of the land associated with it. The meeting will focus on how the land around the harbor and how it will affect the Future Land Use Map.
Katie H. Nunez, the Interim Planning/Zoning Administrator has put together the data, and has offered the following questions to help guide the discussion:
1) Do we need a Historic Harbor Overlay District which is governed pursuant to Cape Charles Zoning Ordinance Article IX? How is this map different from the designated parcels as Harbor Zoning and shown on the Cape Charles Zoning Map which is governed by the regulations in Cape Charles Zoning Ordinance Article 3, Section 3.9?
2) If we need an Historic Harbor Overlay District, have we identified the Harbor Overlay area as we intend and would also like reflected in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan?
3) How does the Comprehensive Plan elucidate the importance of the harbor itself and the adjacent land uses as an economic driver relative to maintaining the Town’s partnership with the Federal Government (Army Corps of Engineers) re: the parameters for federal investment in the ongoing maintenance & dredging of the harbor or potentially expanding the depth of the harbor dredging to meet increased business needs relative to direct harbor commerce thru dockage/wharfage, etc?
4) Does the Comprehensive Plan and the Town Zoning Ordinance reflect the latest survey data from fall 2021 collected by Town Administration regarding economic diversity in the harbor area –tourism related businesses, commercial/service-oriented businesses, manufacturing/light industrial type businesses and other business associated with a working harbor?
5) The latest survey date from fall 2021 collected by Town Administrator included a question concerning the Town providing additional recreational amenities, such as a basketball court with possible locations for said amenities. The majority responses favored locating such an amenity south of Rayfield’s pharmacy on a portion of the railroad property which would fall within the currently identified Historic Harbor Overlay District – does the Comprehensive Plan need to be updated to reflect this type of usage and is this compatible with the uses envisioned in the Harbor Overlay District as well as in the Zoning Ordinance?
From the Nunez staff report, “
The zoning map amendments were advanced relative to increased economic activity: 1) Coastal PreCast purchasing the Bayshore Concrete property and expanded business opportunities, including the possibility of supplying & assembling and storage of components for off-shore wind turbines; and 2) Establishment of the Cape Charles Yacht Center and associated boat dockage, visitation, repairs, maintenance and storage. On the north side of the harbor, there has been a resumption of seafood unloading for commercial distribution and sale.
Additionally, the railroad has formerly ceased operations and ownership status of the underlying land is currently impeding the potential redevelopment of this property which we anticipate will be resolved in the near future, so it is imperative that the Town has adequately Planning and Land Use documents to ensure that this area of the town is developed within our established vision for the harbor area.
An Eastern Shore Rail to Trail Foundation has been formed through the Accomack Northampton Transportation District Commission and the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission is actively working with the communities of the Eastern Shore, including Cape Charles, to apply for state transportation funding to being implementation of the rails-to-trail segment components.
Other concept plans shared with the Town for possible development in the harbor area include a hotel with restaurant and outdoor pavilion as entertainment venue.”
As work on the update to the Comprehensive Plan is in progress, information developed for the future of the harbor will feed into the new document.