Last week, the Ocean View Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed the concept plan submitted by property owner C.J. Pines LLC to create a general business location that will include structures for a restaurant and office/retail space, located at 83 Atlantic Avenue (Route 26) at the intersection of Woodland Avenue.
The parcel is 3.37 acres and is zoned in the town’s General Business District 1. The concept plan shows a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and 9,000-square-foot retail/office building to be constructed on the property.
Town Administrative Official Charles McMullen reminded the commission that the applicant is not required to disclose what kind of restaurant they are looking to house; it simply must comply with the town code. Entrances to the property would be from both Atlantic and Woodland.
With the concept plan, a traffic-generation diagram was also provided. Tom Ford, representing C.J. Pines LLC, said that each retail space is considered to generate a given number of average daily trips (ADTs) as calculated by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT). For the retail/office space, Ford said DelDOT estimates it would generate 423 ADTs, while the restaurant would generate 450 ADTs.
“Once you have those numbers, the design of the entrance, the turn lanes and all the things that actually make it work are built into the site,” he explained. “This site is reflecting these numbers and this use.”
Commissioner Bill Wichmann said that, even with the improvements made to Woodland, the entrance could still be difficult.
“Is there going to be enough space there? How far is that lane going to accept all of that traffic that’s trying to get in and out of your development, merging with the people coming up Woodland Avenue?”
Ford said it’s a legitimate concern, and DelDOT has looked into that issue.
“Part of the entire breakout, the distribution of traffic, is based on the deceleration lane … as it moves around, there was about adequate room for everyone to move… They did look at that. That’s why we were a year in this whole process to get to where we are now,” he said, adding that DelDOT officials had said the entrance didn’t warrant a traffic light.
Tess Matthew, a resident of The Cottages, noted that the back of her yard abuts the property.
“My concern is our property values, being right next to what you might call a strip mall, would go down. One of the local Realtors has suggested this might happen.”
“You understand that this is a GB-General Business District, and that you live next door to a General Business District,” Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader advised Matthew, “and that it would be unreasonable for people to expect that there never be a General Business there, because it’s a lawful use of the property.”
Matthews said she was concerned, as she believed not all of residents of The Cottages were notified.
“I think everybody who lives in The Cottages should be concerned, would be concerned, even though there are only about a third of us who are fulltime residents. That’s our exit; that’s how we get out.”
McMullen said that, as per town code, every property owner who owns property within 200 feet of the property was notified.
“We try to extend that as far as possible; however, I would think The Cottages Homeowners Association could certainly make notifications if they receive something.”
Matthew again voiced her concern regarding the potential development.
“I’m concerned about this going up in my back yard — literally in my back yard. I’m concerned about the Woodland area, and the wetlands. This shows parking over the wetland area. I don’t think DNREC [Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control] would approve of that. Did DNREC approve that?”
McMullen explained that a concept plan marks the very early stages of potential development.
“No one has really reviewed anything. We’re here simply to present to the Town what they are proposing. They’re going to have to jump through hoops with about 27 other agencies within the State of Delaware, as well as Town hoops, before they can get final site plan approval.
“There’s many, many reviews and approvals they’ll be required to get prior to that. There’ll be at least one, possibly two, other reviews of this application that people will receive notice about, and they can come and express their views if the commission so desires to allow them to do that.”
“The one thing I can guarantee you: it will not look like this when it’s done,” added Schrader. “There are an excess of 20-some State agencies that will have the opportunity to read, review and comment on all of these plans. If you move one thing, it affects everything else.”
Patty Mallon, who also owns a home on Columbia Avenue, said she was there to speak as a concerned citizen.
“I represent an awful lot of people in Ocean View — everyone is really tired of all the development. Whoever is building the Royal Farms and the CVSes… the big appeal of this town to a lot of people like me, who have summer residences, who plan to stay here after retirement, was it was a small-town feel. It had a really nice small-town feel, and it’s losing that.”
Commission Chairman Gary Meredith said that the GB lot has been in existence, and he believes the Town needs businesses.
“I think we still have the small-town atmosphere… The Town needs the businesses, and I think the residents here appreciate some of the things that have gone in here recently. Up until the Royal Farms went in, you couldn’t buy a loaf of bread in the town of Ocean View.”
Mallon added that she, too, would like to see more notification made to residents in town.
Schrader asked Mallon if she was familiar with the Town’s website. She said she was not. He explained that notices for meetings, as well as copies of agendas, are posted there.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I can tell you that if you are interested in what’s taking place, you need to be vigilant — keep an eye on that.”
No votes were taken by the commission, as the application was for a concept plan and does not need approval by the commission at that stage.
The website for the Town of Ocean View can be found at www.oceanviewde.com.