Selbyville ‘relaxes’ approval process for planned communities

Selbyville Town Council passed an amendment allowing them to consider community designs that don’t follow Town Code to the letter.

If a developer can prove that relaxing the Planning & Zoning code is in Selbyville’s best interest, the Town Council can now flex the rules.

The Residential Planned Community District was created in 2012 to “provide more flexibility without increasing density,” Town Administrator Bob Dickerson has said. “The intent … is to provide a better plan for our community.”

That might include multifamily homes, curvaceous roads and varying lot sizes.

However, “some of the regulations for the new RPC District are being put to use for the first time and … the level of flexibility that [council] hoped to have in the plan approval process is not as clearly stated as they would like,” reads the prelude to the amendment.

The design criteria, standards and dimensional requirements must follow the code, “except that the Planning Commission may relax … any of these requirements where the developer can demonstrate that such action is and

consistent with the objectives of this ordinance and the comprehensive plan.” Town Council still makes the final decision.

The amendment did not mention the Board of Adjustment.

Jay Murray abstained from the otherwise unanimous vote.

In particular, the adjusted RPC approval process (Town Code Chapter 200, Article VI, section 200-36, subparagraph D) paves the way for Lighthouse Lakes to play with its design standards on Route 54.

In December of 2013, Town Council gave preliminary design approval to for a 140-acre planned community with 304 units, including 204 single-family homes and 50 townhouses.

However, developer Bunting Construction wants to request flexibility in the setbacks.

“The whole idea of the RPC was to allow more design,” said Coleman Bunting, who originally helped develop the RPC code.

Lighthouse Lakes planned a few rows of duplexes. Bunting said the Town considered them to be townhomes. Townhomes require a 100-foot setback from the road. Single-family homes only need 25 feet.

Although these duplexes have two families in one building, the company considers them to be full-sized single-family homes, said Tyler Malone of NVR, which sells Ryan Homes. So they’ll be requesting a smaller setback.

Each unit is 40 feet wide and around 55 feet deep. Two housing units are stuck together with two-car garages on each side. Each driveway holds an additional two cars.

This affects two streets of duplexes. It’s more important that the builders maintain a buffer along the property line, anyway, Bunting said.

The population density would remain unchanged. The number of houses would remain unchanged.

“It doesn’t change anything but the aesthetics of it,” Mayor Clifton Murray said.

This setback has not been approved, but it could meet the overall intent of the RPC code. The new amendment could allow for that.

Selling will begin in a few months, with a base price of $275,000 for duplexes and $300,000 for single-family structures.

“I think we’re going to do very well there,” Malone said. “It’s a beautiful community. It’s shaping up.”

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

Town Council election is March 7. Candidates may file until Feb. 4, and voters may register until Feb. 16 at 4:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Two council positions, plus the mayoral chair, are up for election.

• Representing Mountaire, Jay Griffith reported that the company’s wellness center should be completed by Feb. 1, with a move-in by early March.

The poultry company also helped donate 40,000 meals in Sussex County and parts of Kent County, plus another 6,400 before Christmas.

Receiving a few concerns about the factory’s odors, Griffith said he planned to walk around town that night to research the odor.

• The police department recently purchased a new Ford Explorer to replace an outgoing Dodge Charger. The change in make and model stems from Ford’s offering the police department’s color, saving SPD about $4,000 in paint jobs, said Chief W. Scott Collins. With help from Sussex County Council funding, SPD replaces each of six cars on a six-year rotation.

• The Town recently revoked the business license of Andrew Principe (owner of site maintenance company SMI Services), for storing concrete debris illegally on Railroad Avenue. This month, Dickerson reported that Principe will pay a substantial fine and a bond to clean up the concrete. Attorneys are drawing up the final documents.

Although concrete storage wasn’t a legal use to start, the proper legal process was slow to rectify the situation, Jay Murray noted.

• After years of having “one-and-a-half good producing wells,” Councilmember Rick Duncan said Selbyville now has five.

The new well is still producing “good, clean drinking water,” reported Duncan, who looks forward to seeing how much money Selbyville saves on chemical treatment.

Town water should further improve more as design continues on a filtration system to address gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). The project should go to bid in a few more months.

• Dawn Lekites thanked the town and residents for another successful coat drive for veterans.

• Any group hoping to use public parkland for an event should contact Town Hall.

The topic arose as River Wesleyan Church is planning an Easter Egg hunt, for which Megan Bunting hopes to partner with other organizations, like churches or Selbyville Public Library.

• The next regular Town Council meeting is Monday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m.