County P&Z recommends approval of multi-family dwelling

Sussex County Planning & Zoning commissioners last week approved a conditional-use application for a three-unit multi-family dwelling to be located at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Bennett Road in the development of Sussex Shores near Bethany Beach.

In recommending approval, they cited that the area had similar dwellings and that no parties had expressed opposition, and put a condition of no more than three units and the county Board of Adjustment allowing three units for it to go forward.

“I don’t feel like it would be a strain on the system,” said Commissioner Rodney Smith, before saying he would not personally vote on the application. “And while Engineering said they couldn’t support it, they did not say they were opposed to it.”

The County Council recently heard the application but had deferred a decision, as is required, because P&Z had not yet made their recommendation.

While no one had expressed opposition to the use at the Planning & Zoning Commission hearing on the matter, attorney Robert Witzel, representing the Sussex Shores Beach Association, said his clients were late in doing so because they had not received notice of the application. He said they nonetheless wanted to be on record as opposing the application for three units.

“We are not opposed to two, but we zealously oppose three — the math just does not add up,” he said at a recent county council meeting. He referenced a letter from the Sussex County Engineering Department that cited that they would not recommend approval because of the wastewater EDUs required for the three units.

County Engineer Mike Izzo later clarified that position, saying that the difference between two or three units in an area that could hold nearly 5,000 EDUs would not be large.

“I’m not so sure we need to be making that subjective a statement,” Izzo said of recommendation for not approving the application.

He did say they were using a calculation based on a planning study that 6.67 EDUs per acre would be acceptable in a B1 district, and this application, with three units on about an 8,000 square foot lot, would be 16.63 EDUs per acre.

“We should have just said, ‘We allocated two; this is three, and it exceeded our projections,’” he said.

This week, the P&Z recommended approval. The application will now be forwarded to the county council for their vote.

Commissioners this week also recommended a preliminary approval for a five-lot subdivision on Holts Landing Road for Ralph E. and Betty F. Marvel, contingent upon them noting certain conditions on the final site plan. Smith said the subdivision was “basically infill,” as the parcel is surrounded by similar parcels. The applicants also received a waiver from the county street design stipulation and the buffer stipulation. Smith said “the small number of lots, the configuration of the parcel and the nature of the surrounding properties support such a waiver in this particular case.”

In other news, the commission recommended preliminary approval of Chick Fil-A’s commercial site plan next to Kmart on Route 1 near Rehoboth Beach. They explained that the Kmart lot is a 13.09 acre parcel, with Chick Fil-A planning to lease just less than an acre from the Kmart site.

The commission also recommended approval for a revised site plan for Phase 4 for Bayside, west of Fenwick Island. Carl M. Freeman Companies Vice President Doug Brown explained to the commission that they had originally planned a 12-unit condominium in Phase 4, before the real estate market went south, and that they were now requesting that site to be permitted to be used as a temporary parking lot, with a possibility that it become the permanent use, should the condominium market not come back. He noted that it is used currently as a gravel parking lot and they would like to pave a portion of it. The commission recommended approval, with the stipulation that if it is to become a permanent parking lot, they come back to the commission for approval.