Ocean View checks on street quality

Ocean View Town Council held a work session on Jan. 18, hosting engineer Alan Kercher for questions about the recent street resurfacing in Savannah’s Landing.
Residents raised questions about the quality of the micro-surfacing job several weeks ago.
Joe McCourt represented the homeowners.

He said they recognized there’d been weather delays (work hadn’t commenced until September), but objected to the short notice when the pavers finally showed up. Unexpected road closures proved an inconvenience.

McCourt noted an uneven quality in the finished product, with several ridges running down the middle of the streets. He also objected to loose micro-surfacing material left on the sidewalks and subsequently tracked into homes.

Kercher admitted the cleanup might not have been all that could be expected, but said the pavers had fulfilled their contract.

“It’s not the worst job I’ve ever seen, it’s not the best job I’ve ever seen,” he pointed out.

Ideally, micro-surfacing is applied during the summer, when heat and traffic speed up the curing process.

However, he said the project would smooth out over time.

“It’s not going to look like hot mix but over the years, it will look better,” he explained.

He anticipated the Savannah’s Landing project would look its best three or four years from now, whereas hot mix never looked as good as when it was brand new.

“The main thing is, this will prolong the life of the road, for another eight to 10 years,” Kercher stated.

While it will never have the polished look of hot mix, micro-surfacing can be applied at 25 percent of the cost.

Council spent some time going over Steve Wode’s suggestions regarding inevitable improvements to Route 26.

Wode, a resident of Bethany Beach, has been carrying the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce’s message to local towns.

The chamber recently drafted recommendations for the Delaware Department of Transportation’s (DelDOT’s) consideration, and he reiterated those points at the Jan. 18 meeting.

Chief among those points is the elimination of a proposed grassy median — the chamber would prefer the state purchase a bit more right-of-way and install a center lane instead.

Wode said the design concept for Route 26, from the canal westward, had changed very little in the past 10 years.

He said the designs on the table didn’t address the continuing pattern of growth.

“To me, building a road that doesn’t really improve anything, other than adding sidewalks — that doesn’t improve traffic flow — is kind of silly,” he pointed out.

According to Wode, Bethany Beach had requested, and received, a center lane and it had proven very effective.

DelDOT workers have spent the past few years in study and survey, and are currently in design.

Officials hope to wrap up property acquisitions 2006-2007. Thereafter, actual road improvements should be completed in short order.

In other business, council took another stab at a pair of zoning ordinances, scheduled for second readings next month.

The first would limit subdivisions to parcels less than 10 acres in size. Anything larger than that would have to come into the town as a residential-planned community (RPC).

The RPC ordinance gives the town more control over the project, requiring various design elements not covered in the subdivision ordinance.

However, developers can also build a mixture of housing types in RPCs (single-family, duplex or multifamily) and can include a commercial element as well.

Town Attorney Dennis Schrader suggested economics would probably control the commercial element — a “Mom & Pop” store within a small RPC just wouldn’t have enough of a clientele.

However, Council Member Eric Magill wanted to make sure Ocean View’s single-family neighborhoods stay that way.

Most of the large parcels would probably come in on the south side of town — District 3 and the proposed expansion area.

There’s no conflict between the RPC ordinance and District 3, regarding mixed housing types.

However, Magill requested additional assurance that RPCs in District 2, or “Old Town,” would be restricted to single-family.

Council will split the ordinance in two and reintroduce (them) at the next town council meeting (Feb. 1).

Council also revised an ordinance, regarding density calculations in subdivisions.

Certain features, like wetlands, stormwater management streets and “utility rights-of-way” would be excluded from the total acreage of the parcel when computing density.

Council decided to take driveways back out of those exclusions, because of the difficulty in predicting how much space they would take up.

The town’s long-range financial planning committee held a meeting before the work session.

According to Town Manager Kathy Roth, the committee will be asking council to consider increasing several fees as part of the larger effort to address waning transfer tax revenues.

• A $3,000 impact fee for new construction or changes in use. Those revenues would go toward revenues, debt service, infrastructure, land acquisition and public safety.

• An additional five cents per square foot on building permit fees, with that money targeted for fire/ambulance support (in the form of a donation).

• Increased town business and rental licenses fees, by $25 apiece, to $100 and $75, respectively.