Ocean View looks at stormwater

The Ocean View Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission considered three sets of plans at the Sept. 15 P&Z meeting. While they all had their quirks, stormwater issues related to a fledgling subdivision at 49 Woodland Avenue proved the central topic for discussion.

J.C. Owens and Sharon Cruz (Design Consultants Group) represented the builder, Pat Acri, and plans showing nine lots on 3.8 acres of land.

Owens did the math — the project would generate roughly 2.3 units per acre, gross density, or a little more than 2.7 units per acre discounting the road leading into the new subdivision.

So the project cleared town zoning requirements — but commission members had several concerns regarding stormwater retention, and potential for runoff. And at least as of Sept. 15, Owens said they were still waiting to hear back on the soil’s suitability for drainage.

Cruz noted catch basins directly adjacent to the site (existing low areas). Although she admitted they might need to incorporate something more in the way of retention ponds, Cruz said they were hoping the soils science would support biofiltration swales (shallow ditches).

She pointed out a pair of storm drains in the Woodland Avenue right-of-way, suggesting those could accommodate any additional runoff, if the on-site stormwater retention facilities overtopped (in a storm event, for instance).

Commission Member Perry Mitchell asked whether the northern ditch was on the property, or straddling the property line — Cruz said it might be partially on someone else’s property. However, as long as there was no more outflow from the parcel than presently existed, she said the stormwater management plan would pass muster with the Soil Conservation District (SCD).

Commission Member Garland Saville offered a caution — “My only concern is, if those (ditches) aren’t large enough, it’s going to change your whole design,” he pointed out.

Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader asked who would be responsible for maintaining the stormwater management (whatever it turned out to be), and Acri agreed they’d need some kind of homeowners’ association to guarantee that.

Sean Hull, the neighbor to the south, noted a ditch similar to the one Cruz had indicated at the northern side of the property near his parcel. He said it flooded after even a moderate rain, and the storm sewer on Woodland Avenue didn’t address the issue.

Charlie McMullen, the town’s administrative official and public works supervisor, admitted the drains were the town’s responsibility. However, he nudged for Acri’s assistance, and Acri indicated he’d be amenable.

The commission returned to details of the stormwater plan, or lack thereof. According to McMullen, the P&Z had bandied the issue back and forth in the past — which should come first, preliminary site plan approval or SCD-approved stormwater management?

Recommendations from either body could lead to changes to overall design, he noted — which would then generate additional stages in review.

As McMullen clarified, town code referred to a “surface drainage plan,” perhaps less rigorous than what the SCD would require. However, Schrader suggested the Acri plans hadn’t attained even that level.

“The problem is, you don’t know what you’re giving approval for — that’s why we require those documents at preliminary,” he pointed out.

Despite lingering questions, the commission unanimously approved the subdivision plan as a preliminary, contingent upon the SCD approvals, and a plan for water delivery (individual wells or central).

In other business, the commission granted approval to a “crush and run” project in the parking lot at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church, with the condition they combine the parcel to be used for the parking with the church parcel.

Existing parking is on grass — this application would allow the church to lay down gravel on a 5,000-square-foot area of the roughly 5-acre parcel.

The commission also approved a conditional use, for the alcoholic beverage side of a combination wine-and-spirits/upscale “Bear Essentials” convenience store and takeout, at Bear Trap, by a 3-1 vote. Saville said he was a part-time employee of Bear Trap parent Carl M. Freeman Communities, and recused himself. Commission Member Perry Mitchell voted against.