County P&Z gives approval for apartment complex

A 45-unit apartment complex proposed for the Muddy Neck Road area in Ocean View has been recommended for approval by the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission, despite strong objection from neighbors who wrote hundreds of letters of opposition and submitted a petition.

Pending final approved by the Sussex County Council, whose members will discuss the matter on Dec. 10, the apartments will be built on 3.93 acres west of Muddy Neck Road and northwest of Parker House Road. The matter is on the Sussex County Council agenda for 1:30 p.m. that day.

Opponents do not want the parcel’s zoning changed from AR-1 to GR, saying apartments don’t fit in with the neighborhood. AR-1 is an agricultural-residential zoning designation that allows two units of housing per acre. GR is a general residential zoning designation allowing three units per acre.

But at the Thursday, Nov. 14, meeting, Planning & Zoning commissioners gave the zoning change a green light, while placing conditions of approval on the project, including restricting the number of apartments to 45 units and requiring the developer to adhere to all Delaware Department of Transportation requirements and see that street lights face downward.

The more than 600 letters of objection received by the county’s Planning & Zoning Department since September will be forwarded  to the Sussex County Council in a paperless packet and available for the public to read on the County website at www.sussexcountyde.gov.

“Six hundred letters is definitely more than we usually receive. Every now and then we’ll have one come through and we might get 20 letters, but this was a contentious item and we received a lot of opposition,” said County Planner Lauren DeVore, adding that the letters were mostly copies of an original, each with a different signature.

Diana Emlet, who has since 2005 been a part-time resident of Ocean View’s Providence community, near the site in question, is among those who don’t want apartments in her neighborhood. Opponents asked the Planning & Zoning Commission to deny the request by the property owner, Gulfstream Development, based in Ocean View. The architect is Land Tech Planning in Bethany Beach.

“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,” Emlet said.

“Neighbors are very concerned it doesn’t fit into the neighborhood of all single homes,” Emlet said, though there are already townhouses on an adjacent parcel and an apartment building nearby. “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,” she said.

Opponents are asking that medium-density housing, including apartment complexes, be denied.

“We just can’t have 45 new homes in such a small, dense area,” Emlet said.

 

By Susan Canfora
Staff Reporter