Ocean View P&Z pushes amenities

A 22-townhouse project came before Ocean View Planning and Zoning (P&Z) for final review on March 17. P&Z members questioned several aspects of the plan, but eventually agreed to consider it approved, contingent upon their receipt of three final items.

Ocean Mist, to be located at 8 Atlantic Avenue (Route 26, just west of the Assawoman Canal) will comprise 11 duplexes on 3.72 acres. Project density will be 5.91 units per acre, and the developers anticipate the homes would sell in the neighborhood of $450,000. Still needed:

1) An answer from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) regarding the homeowners’ responsibility for cleaning out the ditch between Ocean Mist and Savannah’s Landing.
2) A review of documents outlining the restrictive deed covenants.
3) Plans showing the addition of recreational amenities to the plan, specifically benches around the (stormwater) pond at the center of the development.

According to the minutes, P&Z Member Jeanne Mueller raised concerns about safety in that area back in March 2004 (preliminary site plan review). However, as architect J. Stacey Hart (ESP Developers) explained, the pond would be less than 2 feet deep.

Mueller noted the absence of amenities at that time (with specific reference to a tot lot).

Hart said there was room to put in benches or the like.

Again from the minutes at the next site plan review (April 2004), Hart said benches would be placed around the pond as requested. P&Z Chairman Dick Logue made them a formal condition at that time, referenced as “park recreational amenities around the proposed pond.”

However, as of the March 17 meeting for final site plan review, they remained absent from the plans, and Logue took exception.

Attorney Richard Berl, representing the developers, said amenities like tot lots or swing sets would be a liability issue.

“If the homeowners’ association decides they want them, they could do something at that point,” Berl pointed out.

“That’s pure hogwash and you know it,” Logue responded. He referenced benches once again.

Berl called such amenities a tool that developers used to sell homes, and said he wasn’t sure they were necessary at Ocean Mist.

Logue said he didn’t want to hold up the project, but they hadn’t met the condition.

Developer Dominic Brunori said there may have been some confusion — the plan did show benches. According to Brunori, “benches” was a technical term used in stormwater management design, referring to the stepwise descent into the pond.

In other business, Ken Hudson presented revised plans to make two parcels out of three at 5 Atlantic Avenue, right across the street from the impending Ocean Mist project.

Hudson and wife, Paula Morin Hudson, own and operate Paula’s Decorating Café and CSI Granite Fabrication. The Morin family, Barry (Guy) and Barbara, run Paul Morin Floor & Wall Design and the Kitchen and Cabinet Corner.

Both families had hoped to split the properties more evenly, for estate planning.

It was more of a progress report on March 17, and the P&Z tabled the matter until the April meeting.

Hudson and attorney Jack Tarburton presented a revised plan answering some of the questions raised at the Nov. 18 meeting.

The P&Z had questioned the manner in which the (two) parcels would share a driveway and stormwater management at that time.

Tarburton said he had a draft of the restrictive deed agreements to preserve that arrangement in the event the property should sell.

One corner of an existing warehouse at the east side of the property (quite near the Assawoman Canal) overlapped the property line, and was in state lands. However, Hudson said they had a verbal agreement with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to rent that piece, but the state was still trying to figure out what to charge them.

Next, the P&Z approved Kim and Jeff Bennett’s project at 33 Central Avenue (Kim’s Interiors), somewhat after the fact. Work is nearly complete there, but the P&Z went back over parking and stormwater management issues, and screening for a dumpster.

Attorney Larry Fifer, representing the homeowner at 32 Central Avenue, rose to protest the business as an inappropriate use in a residential zone.

However, as Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader and various P&Z members explained, the property had been used commercially for many years.

Apparently, there was once a feed mill at that location.

Finally, the P&Z reviewed and made recommendation on six ordinances:

1) Single-family homes only in District 2 residential-planned communities (RPCs) — recommended for approval. (District 2 is basically Ocean View before Bear Trap, excluding Route 26.)
2) Handicapped parking sign requirements (state-mandated) — recommended for approval.
3) Public or private schools permitted by right within the General Business (GB) district — recommended for approval. As a sidebar, Logue suggested a requirement that new businesses return to the P&Z for site plan review, if there’s a change in use.
4) Density computations in subdivisions, various subtractions from total net density — recommended for denial.
5) Subdivisions in District 3 (Bear Trap, and areas to be annexed) not to exceed 10 acres — approved in concept, but with several questions.
6) Prohibition of multi-family homes or townhouses in subdivisions, except in District 1 (Route 26) — recommended for approval.

The P&Z reached all the above decisions in unanimity.