Coastal Station residential units hit roadblock

Sussex board denies variance on building length
September 26, 2017

Story Location:
Coastal Highway
Holland Glade Road
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware
United States

Developers of Coastal Station near Rehoboth Beach may well be confused about a decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment at its Sept. 18 meeting.

The board voted unanimously in favor of a special-use exception to allow construction of multifamily units and mixed commercial and residential, but also voted 3-2 to deny the developer's request for a variance from the county's maximum building length for mutifamily housing.

County code does not limit the length of commercial buildings. However, multifamily buildings are limited to 165 feet in length. In order to build the project as designed, the developer requested variances of 195 feet for one building and 250 feet for another.

Phase 2 of Coastal Station calls for 96 apartments and 36,000 square feet of retail space at the former Tomato Sunshine location on Route 1. The phase would include three, 3-story buildings on a 5-acre parcel, connected to Phase 1 of the project, which contains a Royal Farms convenience store and Iron Hill Brewery, which are already under construction on a 10-acre parcel along Route 1.

The retail section of Phase 2 would be located on the first floor of the buildings and the apartments would be on the second and third floors. All three buildings would be connected by sky bridges, said the applicant's attorney John Tracey.

At the Sept. 18 board meeting, members debated whether the developer's plan met the standards for a variance. It was quickly apparent the board was split.

Norman “Bud” Rickard said the developer did not meet two of the five standards required for granting a variance. He said he supported the special-use exception, but the project could be developed without a variance. “The applicant has created his own problem as far as I'm concerned,” he said. “This will create a substantial impact.”

Rickard and Ellen Magee said the county should not deviate from its building-length regulations.

John Mills said the developer had addressed the standards and disagreed with Rickard's assumptions. Mills said the applicant was developing a project on land with two different zoning classifications, CR-1 and C, which is an issue the developer did not create. “He could develop more intensely than what he is asking for,” Mills said. “This is a reasonable use of the property and he's met all of the setbacks.”

He said, for example, building a supermarket at the site would more than triple the traffic.

Board members did agree on one thing – traffic at the intersection is an issue. During the public hearing, the developer said he would fund a traffic signal at the Route 1-Holland Glade intersection.

“Traffic will always be there. We can make the signal a condition of approval for the special use,” Mills said.

The board approved the special-use exception with the caveat that when transportation officials say a traffic signal at the intersection is warranted, the developer would be required to fund it.

However, board members voted 3-2 against a variance. Mills and Norman Workman voted in favor, and Rickards, Ellen Magee and Dale Callaway voted against the request.