Neighbors raise objections to apartment complex proposed near Ocean View

Neighbors who live near property in the Ocean View area that is proposed for a 45-unit apartment complex are objecting to the owner’s request to have zoning changed from AR-1 to GR, saying apartments don’t fit in with the neighborhood.

Diana Emlet, who has lived in the Providence community since 2005, told the Coastal Point she is among those in the Muddy Neck and Parker House roads area asking Sussex County’s Planning & Zoning Commission and the Sussex County Council to deny the request by the property owner, Gulfstream Development, based in Ocean View. The architect is Land Tech Planning in Bethany Beach.

AR-1 is an agricultural zoning designation that allows two units per acre. GR is a general residential zoning designation allowing three units per acre, explained Laura Devore, a planner for Sussex County.

“Anybody who purchases land has the right to develop it, but AR-1 zoning should be for stick-built, modular homes and farm use. That would fit with the neighborhoods that are there now,” said Emlet, who has been a part-time resident since 2005.

“The property is 3.93 acres west of Muddy Neck Road and northwest of Parker House Road, across from the produce stand on Muddy Neck Road and across from Melson Funeral Home on Parker House Road. It is less than 4 acres, and some of the neighbors have said they are very concerned that it won’t fit into the neighborhood of all single-family homes.

“I’m concerned about density of homes on a relatively small parcel of land, and I’m very concerned about the traffic on Muddy Neck and Parker House. That is already a very bad intersection, so I’m very concerned about the traffic,” Emlet said.

Residents in her community, as well as others, plan to object.

“The ‘No’ we want is no to any medium-density housing, whether it be apartment complexes or whatever. We just can’t have 45 news homes in such a small, dense area,” she said.

Emlet said a similar zoning change request was turned down by Planning & Zoning following strong community objection in 2009.

“We faxed hundreds of letters. We had petitions, and we spoke at the public hearing,” she said.

Emlet’s townhouse is on Muddy Neck, facing the property in question.

“All I look at is beautiful trees. They want this to be the ‘quiet resort’ area, with Bethany and everything, but they are overdeveloping,” she said.

Devore explained that there will be two related hearings at the Oct. 24 Planning & Zoning meeting, set to begin at 6 p.m., although the meeting dates are tentative. One hearing will be for the zoning change and the other for the conditional-use application that would allow apartments there.

She said the public is welcome to send letters of objection and to go into the planning office and read the public record. Letters are due before the meeting and can be mailed to Zoning & Planning, Attention Commissioners, P.O. Box 417, Georgetown, Del., 19947. They can be faxed to (302) 854-5079.

“At the meeting, typically they defer [on taking a vote] to give extra time for the commissioners to get time to take in all the information they receive. Typically, they don’t make a recommendation that night. They review it. It also has to go through council for approval. The hearing date for County Council is tentatively Dec. 10,” Devore said.

Objections are “certainly not unusual,” she added.

“We usually get a lot of pushback, especially if you’re increasing the density in that area. It’s for affordable housing,” she noted. “In the past, we have had a lot of people very concerned about affordable housing and what that means for their property values, although they have to present proof when they make their argument,” she said.


By Susan Canfora

Staff Reporter