Ocean View approves Lord Baltimore

The Ocean View Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission ushered plans for renovations at Lord Baltimore Elementary School through the preliminaries, and approved the site plan as a final (with a few conditions) at the July 21 P&Z meeting.

Indian River School District’s (IRSD’s) Greg Weer and engineer Ed Tennefoss (Davis, Bowen & Friedel) represented the project. Plans include the addition of several classrooms, but more central to the project is a complete reconfiguration of the area that currently accommodates kindergarteners.

At present, those classrooms are housed separately and across a bit of pavement, behind the main buildings (looking south from Route 26). There are some trailers in that area, as well, which will be removed.

The district plans to join the two buildings, flip the kitchen and cafeteria into the existing kindergarten area and flop the library into the existing cafeteria area.

Plans call for improved connections between the other buildings as well — a covered walkway to the gymnasium and a corridor between the two main buildings (closing the existing entrance from Route 26).

Bus drivers will travel a new, one-way loop through the school grounds, entering from Route 26 near the eastern property line, dropping off the kids at a main entrance and administrative area on the south side of the complex and exiting onto Old School Lane (west of the school).

As Tennefoss pointed out, little had changed since the last time they presented the plan, June 16. P&Z approved a final site plan (with conditions) for the in-town portion of the project at that time, but the main building straddled the Ocean View/Sussex County border, complicating the approval process.

Since then, the town has successfully annexed the county portion, and with their newly acquired jurisdiction over that piece of land, the town P&Z was able to formalize their review on July 21. (Millville also controls jurisdiction on a portion of the Lord Baltimore site, and Weer said they’d received a building permit to cover that work.)

Lord Baltimore students will be camping out at the old Indian River High School for the next year, but the IRSD plans to bring them back to Ocean View in time to start the 2007 school year.

Commission Member Perry Mitchell asked Tennefoss what had changed since the last approval, perhaps recognizing the IRSD’s anxiousness to get moving on the project. Tennefoss noted only the delineation of additional rights-of-way along Old School Lane.

Ocean View’s Charlie McMullen (public works, administration) said he’d asked Tennefoss to reference the town’s right of access to that easement area (alongside Delaware Department of Transportation access rights), and Tennefoss confirmed he’d done so.

Other than that, McMullen asked him to address two clerical items (reference General Business zoning, correct loading-area measurements) — everything else seemed in order, and the commission unanimously approved the final site plan. (Commission Member Carol Goodhand was absent.)

P&Z Chair Dick Logue entertained a motion to permit outside demolition work until Tennefoss received various outstanding agency approvals, and that also passed unanimously. The commission had granted a similar approval ahead of the formal issuance of a building permit

In other Ocean View land-use business, the town’s Board of Adjustment (BoA) granted several setback variances in The Preserve at Ocean View development (11 new single-family homes near the corner of Cedar Lane and Central Avenue).

The builders were well on their way to completion of four of those new homes, but had blundered into setback violations (albeit minor ones) on all four of them.

According to attorney Jim Fuqua, representing Ruggiero Development and Tropea Builders, the outside walls of one home intruded several inches along two setbacks. He said they weren’t sure what had happened, only that there’d been slight differences between pre-construction and “as-built” surveys.

In addition, Fuqua said eaves at all four new homes encroached 12 inches into setback areas.

He suggested there may have been some confusion between two sets of guidelines, noting that the builders were also working other projects under county jurisdiction. Though Ocean View restrictions permit no intrusion by cantilevered structures, eaves, soffits, decks, steps and railings, Sussex County permits a 2-foot intrusion.

While admitting this was no excuse (the town had provided an information sheet listing its requirements), Fuqua defended Tropea’s reputation and on the builders’ behalf humbly petitioned for relief.

And then he went for one better, asking if the BoA would consider granting variances for the remaining houses.

Logue (in his other role, as chairman of the BoA) begrudged him that request — “Why would we grant a variance for something that hasn’t been built yet and can obviously be corrected?” he asked.

Attorney Rob Robinson, standing in for Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, said those requests hadn’t been properly advertised, so the BoA couldn’t grant them anyway, as a matter of law.

Robinson read a letter from next-door neighbor Richard Banks into the record. Banks said he wouldn’t have a problem with a few inches here or there — but more than a 1- to 3-foot encroachment, and he said he’d want the houses moved.

Logue warned the applicants not to expect lenience if similar problems cropped up again, but — at least for these four houses — the board voted in unanimity to grant the variances.