Selbyville developers can get creative with new zoning option

Selbyville could become more attractive to developers after the town council this week unanimously approved a zoning amendment for residential planned communities (RPCs). The new RPC district is a new overlay option developers may use when designing a new neighborhood.

“The new code says the RPC District will “promote imaginative and environmentally responsible development.”

Under the new overlay, the lot size minimum decreases from 12,000 square feet to 9,000 square feet. It must be at least 75 feet in width. With the decreases, smaller housing lots may be located on one side of the neighborhood, while communal or public land, such as a park or nature trail, that is freed up by the smaller lots giving people some room to move.

At least 50 percent of the space must be usable recreational land, not just stormwater management or unkempt wetlands.

The population density will remain at an average of 2.2 units per total acres.

“We desire to encourage creative land planning, so with that we have less roads, less sidewalks, less pipes that need maintaining,” said Councilman Jay Murray.

Additionally, designers are not constrained to a grid-like pattern that can be tough fit around the borders of creeks and marshland.

“It allows the developer to design a community he thinks he can market,” said Mayor Clifton Murray, adding that many towns have taken similar measures.

The RPC even allows for some multi-family dwellings, if the community is large enough. The ordinance also includes provisions for boat and RV storage and additional parking. A major RPC of 100 or more residential units can also be allowed one acre of commercial use, such as an area for a business or shop within the community, which must be accessible from the public highway.

Plus, all RPC districts will need to include a property owners’ association agreement that must be properly submitted and filed. Building permits will not be issued until the proof of that association is recorded.

The new overlay still allows the Town a degree of control, even if the basic requirements are met. The town council can still reject a community’s design if it does not fit the intent of the ordinance.

Also at this week’s council meeting, the council unanimously approved Selbyville’s participation in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which provides funding for low- to moderate-income families for home maintenance and repair.

Kent and Sussex counties received $2 million last year, Mike Jones of Sussex County Community Development told the council. In 12 years, more than 80 Selbyville households received a total of $666,000 to help keep them in their own homes. Individual applications are due by Feb. 28, 2013. Selbyville and CDBG have been long-time partners in housing aid, and there are usually many more applications than grants that are available.