When industrial and commercial activities occur in a residential neighborhood, it can lead to various problems and concerns for residents and businesses. These problems can have significant social, economic, and even environmental impacts.
That appears to happening on the 600 block of Madison Avenue.
The issue continues to be oversized trucks attempting to back into a narrow garage in Wendell Distributing’s warehouse. In some cases, the truck’s damage curbing, damage trees, block driveways, and even cause property damage as the trucks come into yards.
The Mirror has been told that senior leadership/management at Wendell Distributing is no longer part of the day-to-day operations. The current management team is aware of the problems and has attempted to address them, but so far has not been able to alleviate the issue. Whether or not senior leadership should step in for analysis and general guidance may be worth a second look.
For the Town’s part, the response has been marginally laissez-faire, generally missing the point, and they have come up with a plan that is apropos of nothing.
Wendell Distributing is the historically, culturally, and financially most important business in Cape Charles–it is critical that they succeed, but it requires a solution that strikes a balance with Madison Avenue residents.
The letter from Madison Avenue residents, images, and public notice sums up the issue:
To: Cape Charles Town Council, Mr. Mayor, Mr. Vice Mayor, and Mr Hozey.
I am one of the full-time residents mentioned in the attached notice regarding congestion on Madison Avenue.
Congestion was never the issue that started this discussion. The issue is and continues to be oversized trucks operating on streets not built for them performing maneuvers to back into a narrow garage in Wendell’s warehouse, running over the curbs into our yards causing property damage and blocking homeowner’s driveways. To call it congestion is misleading.
I reported this problem in 2022 and again earlier this year. One of us complained the trucks regularly stopped in front of their driveway to conduct paperwork inside the warehouse before backing into the warehouse, restricting their ability to get to work. These are the actions that which instigated the meeting mentioned in the notice.
Trucks have damaged the curb and my property over the last 18 years of my ownership. They tear limbs off the beautiful crape myrtle trees that line the street and have pulled down telephone and cable TV wires. Trucks running up into my yard used to be infrequent, it now happens several times a year as documented by the attached just a few of the photos I’ve taken last year and this. Inexperienced truck drivers are blamed for the problem. If so, why are they driving the 53’ trailers prescribed by the breweries on our residential streets? This needs to be taken up with the breweries, not VDOT.
The solution described in the notice was definitely NOT the outcome residents agreed to in the meeting and won’t prevent the problem of poorly skilled truck drivers backing trailers too large to be handled on a road that was never designed for this kind of use. The solution fails to address the true problem and will negatively affect us and our property values.
Residents past and present have parked on this street for over 100 years as have the many other service providers, visiting family, and other guests of both Wendell’s and the homeowners. This street is not the sole domain nor an extension of Wendell’s Distributing truck loading zones. These are residential streets and should be available for everyone!
At the meeting mentioned in the notice, the conclusion was to ask VDOT for a traffic survey of the 53’ trucks entering Cape Charles and a follow-up with all parties with the results to determine if a different traffic plan could be developed. That second discussion never happened. Instead, Mr Hozey went beyond and against resident’s wishes and began to implemented the plan mentioned in the notice.
We respect Wendell’s ability to conduct business, this is about the behavior of the drivers employed by the trucking services used by the breweries. I’ve called out several of these offending drivers and contacted the trucking companies. They were only interested in paying to remediate the damage, never to change their driver’s behavior. I’ve talked to Wendell’s employees asking them to stand on the street and direct the trucks not to run into my yard and they’ve done so from time to time, sometimes more diligently than others. In the past some of them were doing the opposite, actually directing trucks to use my yard to maneuver, indicating their complicity with the problem.
Wendell’s management claims “well, it’s hard to get good employees”. I’m dumbfounded. Greg Harmon has been helpful trying to prevent this issue with some success but the problem remains: unskilled drivers operating rigs too large for this street trying to get into a warehouse door just barely wide enough to handle their trailers.
Painting the curb to prevent parking was rejected by homeowners in the meeting as it prevents the ability of other personal and business use of the street in front of resident’s property. It wouldn’t prevent trucks from jumping the curb already broken by their activity. A No Parking zone denies us the only sure method we have to prevent damage to our property: parking our own vehicles on the street in the places where this happens.
Further, breakaway signs would negatively affect property values. They’re an eyesore and don’t address the root cause of the problem. They’re a bandaid and not a cure.
There is a wider, more accessible door at the East end of Wendell’s warehouse on Fig Street that can easily accommodate the 53’ trailers used by the various breweries. Wendell’s also owns a large lot they use for parking that could be an unloading zone with plenty of truck turning room.
No homeowner’s property or access would be affected. No city trees would suffer broken limbs nor would any power or communication lines be torn down as has happened on Madison Avenue. No streets need to be painted, no signage needs to be installed and VDOT approvals aren’t required. Trucks already use Fig Street to arrive at the warehouse.
Historically, this part of town was populated by the people in our society most discriminated against. That kind of behavior has mostly been eliminated, thankfully, but this action will once again discriminate against the homeowners who live here in the less expensive part of town to the advantage of Wendell’s business. That is not progress, that is the opposite. We try to be good neighbors and Wendell’s people have done a few things to help but it’s not a long-term solution.
We reject the notice and the plan described in it. This was not the outcome agreed to in the meeting and misrepresents the true issue. Easier solutions are at hand. We request town management to stop this plan from being implemented as it is not the plan agreed to and it does not affect the root issue. It will not prevent poorly skilled vehicle operators from damaging or blocking our property by driving too-large rigs on this residential street trying to get into a too-narrow warehouse door.