Historical society variances approved by Ocean View BoA

The Ocean View Historical Society is one step closer to building its replica Hall’s Store — what will serve as the group’s main hub at its historic complex located at 39 Central Avenue.

To move the project ahead, the society sought from the Ocean View Board of Adjustment two variances from the town code regarding land use and development. They requested a variance that would allow the society’s new building to exceed the maximum 35 percent lot coverage by 18 percent. The society also sought to receive a variance to encroach into the rear and side yard setbacks, which, according to the code, at least 10 feet.

Town Administrative Official Charles McMullen noted that the land upon which the building is to be built is owned by the Town of Ocean View but was leased to the historical society in May of 2010 for 15 years, with the option to extend the lease for five years, at a cost of $1.

McMullen said it is the paver patio, and not the building itself, that would encroach into the setbacks.

He voiced concerns that, in reviewing the project, the Sussex Conservation District did not look at 39 Central Avenue as one parcel, but looked at it in relation to all of the Town’s properties.

“That’s 4.43 acres, I believe,” said McMullen. “The concern I had with that was, if the Town decided they wanted to put further improvements on the lands of the Town of Ocean View, would the approval of this affect the ability to do that?”

McMullen said he has been in contact with the Sussex Conservation District, noting that if the review was left as-is they could be a little more stringent with future Town property development.

McMullen recommended that, since the Town has never combined its properties in to a single parcel, that the Board make it a condition of approval that the property be re-reviewed by the Sussex Conservation District as a single parcel.

In attendance at the BoA meeting were 17 community members who voiced their support of the application, with no attendees voicing opposition.

Former OVHS president Carol Psaros spoke to the board, representing the society, stating that the replica of Halls Store would serve many functions for the non-profit group, with a big focus being education.

“It’s going to serve many purposes for our organization, as well as for Ocean View. It will be a place for groups to come to our site, as they’ve been coming the last six or seven years — only they’ll have the benefit of a building that has a roof on it, that has heat. It will have a meeting room where we can sit schoolkids down and talk to them after they’ve had a little tour of our buildings.

“We can host group activities, and it will also give us a place for our Board of Directors to meet monthly. We’re really excited about the flexibility and the positive things we can do with this headquarters.”

She noted that the front of the building would be built in the likeness of a country store of that era, to resemble Ocean View’s original Hall’s Store.

“It has a lot of historical significance, because the front of the building will look like Hall’s Store,” she said. “This area in the 1600 and early 1700s was called ‘Hall’s Store’ because the Hall family had a country store here. After the Town incorporated in 1889, of course, it became the Town of Ocean View.”

Psaros noted that the building would have two handicapped-accessible bathrooms and a small galley kitchen, “which would make the site perfect for our social events, and most importantly it would allow us to do a lot of educational programs that the public would enjoy.”

She said she was excited for what the historical society has in store for the future, and how it will benefit the town and surrounding communities for years to come.

“It will be something the community can be proud of,” she said.

The board approved the variances unanimously, with the condition that the property be re-reviewed by the Sussex Conservation District.

The concept plan for the project was also reviewed on Sept. 21 by the Ocean View Planning & Zoning Commission, but no vote was taken by commissioners.