Sussex County's planning and zoning commissioners want the developers of Shoal Harbor, a new Rehoboth Beach townhouse complex, to go back to the drawing board.
During the May 22 meeting, the developers, 625 Rehoboth Avenue LLC, submitted a revised site plan that reduces the size of the pool from 1,000 square feet – already approved by the county – to 600 square feet.
Speaking on behalf of the developers, attorney Jim Fuqua said the revised site plan also includes a larger pool house to include more storage space and a bathroom and an outdoor shower, an outdoor kitchen area, a covered patio area and an expanded pool deck as well as three additional parking spaces.
“They are not trying to get out of doing something,” Fuqua said. “But there are limitations on the area where the pool can be constructed. The applicant thought this would be a better plan. Obviously, some people don't agree with that.”
During the meeting, commissioners learned that the foundation has been poured for the pool house and work has started on the pool; the county issued a building permit for the project. Work has stopped while the developer awaits decision on a new site plan.
The commission voted 5-0 against the revised site plan and asked the developer to come back with yet another revised site plan. Shoal Harbor, at the site of the former Suburban Propane facility along Rehoboth Avenue Extended, contains 28 units on 2.3 acres. All units have been sold, Fuqua said.
Shane Abbott, deputy director of county planning and zoning, said the county had received 12 emails from Shoal Harbor residents opposed to the revised site plan. “It appears from the emails the residents would prefer to have a smaller pool house and a larger pool. Is it possible to give them that?” asked Commissioner Marty Ross.
Josh Mastrangelo, representing the developers, replied that 16 other owners were silent on the size of the pool.
Ross said the issue is that the pool is about 40 percent smaller than what was approved by the county. “Do not force us to be Solomon and force us to make a decision that doesn't suit anyone,” he said. “Reach a consensus – a compromise – with the community and bring it back to us.”
Mastrangelo said it was made clear to buyers that anything on the plans was subject to change.
Commission President Bob Wheatley said the developers should follow the original plan, rework the area without the three additional parking spaces. “Pools come in all kind of shapes. Give the people who laid down the money what they want,” he said. “Talk with the residents.”
Fuqua said hat the actual size of the pool – or any amenities for that matter – are conceptual and not part of a legal contract. He said the pool was drawn on the original plans as a placeholder without a specific size. In addition, he said, amenities are not required for multifamily projects in commercial zones. “The pool was proposed by the applicant to make a better plan,” Fuqua said.
“There is a line between what is site-plan approval under the zoning ordinance that you have the authority to rule on or what may be a contractual dispute between buyer and seller as to what was represented and what wasn't represented,” Fuqua said. “We are not looking for a fight; we are trying to find a solution.”
The county is involved because a final site plan was approved and units have been constructed, said Vince Robertson, assistant county attorney.
According to Mastrangelo, several factors led to the request for a new site plan including the requirement for a 40-foot setback from Rehoboth Avenue Extended, a reconfigured walkway and entrance way and a change in the location of the stormwater management system.
Mastrangelo acknowledged that there is a concern about the size of the pool. “We want it to be as big as possible but we are pinned in with the area we have,” he said.
Contacted after the meeting, Fuqua said the developer will come back with another plan. “They will talk with people and there will be some redesign of it,” Fuqua said.