Ocean Meadows developer requests more lots

Attorney says density calculation mistake was made during original application
March 12, 2019

The developer of Ocean Meadows wants to add 36 lots to an already approved cluster subdivision near Lewes.

Ocean Meadows – Estates at Cedar Grove LLC's application includes 136 single-family lots on 70 acres of AR-1, agricultural-residential, land along Beaver Dam Road near the Kendale Road intersection. The developer is Stonemark Ventures LLC of Columbia, Md.

Following a public hearing at its Feb. 28 meeting, the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted to defer a vote to a future meeting.

Jim Fuqua, the developer's attorney, said the original application, which received final approval by the planning and zoning commission a year ago, was filed based on a misunderstanding of language in the county cluster ordinance.

“This is a corrective application to address a mistake that was made as to the permitted density for a cluster subdivision,” Fuqua said. “It was a very expensive mistake since it resulted in the exclusion of 36 lots that were permitted.”

According to Fuqua, the county cluster subdivision ordinance, which allows for 7,500-square-foot lots instead of 20,000-square-foot lots in a standard subdivision, has three components – a standard cluster subdivision with two units per acre; a superior-design cluster subdivision with a yield plan; and an environmentally sensitive developing district cluster subdivision allowing 2.17 lots per acre.

He said the application was filed as a superior-design cluster subdivision, which requires a yield plan showing how many 20,000-square-foot standard subdivision lots could be placed on the site. “That's the cap for permitted lots, which is about a 25 percent reduction in the number of permitted lots,” the attorney said.

He said this has been the only application he is aware of that has ever been filed under that provision of code. “This application is now a regular cluster like you see at almost every meeting,” Fuqua said.

The county ordinance calls for superior-design elements including 30 percent contiguous open space. However, implementing these elements is optional.

Assistant county attorney Vince Robertson agreed with Fuqua that the current ordinance is confusing. He said county council has introduced an amended superior design/cluster ordinance, which clarifies the ordinance and includes a provision to make the superior-design elements mandatory.

Fuqua said the only two proposed changes from the original plan would be an increase to 136 lots and a condition that amenities – including a pool and clubhouse – must be completed by the issuance of the 70th building permit. The name of the community has also changed to Ocean Meadows.