The final site plan for the Terrapin Island subdivision was approved Aug. 25 by Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission.
Terrapin Island, located along Camp Arrowhead Road adjacent to Bayfront at Rehoboth and the West Bay manufactured home park, will have 42 single-family home lots on 32 acres.
More than 30% of the parcel, which borders Rehoboth Bay, contains wetlands – eight acres of non-tidal wetlands and nearly four acres of tidal wetlands.
Conditions imposed by the commission include a 20-foot vegetated buffer using as many existing trees as possible around the perimeter of the property, an additional 10-foot buffer along the back of building lots for stormwater conveyance, a 50-foot buffer along tidal wetlands, a 25-foot setback along all non-tidal wetlands, and sidewalks on at least one side of the community's streets.
The plan includes access for residents in the neighboring Bayfront community to a private beach as well as access for emergency and maintenance vehicles.
The plan also includes filling about a quarter-acre of wetlands for two street crossings. To mitigate the fill, state environmental officials are requiring developer Ribera Development LLC to preserve nearly 15 other acres of wetlands and upland habitat areas.
Plans also include 16 acres of open space, pocket parks, and rolled curbs and gutters.
The Delaware Department of Transportation is requiring road improvements along the property’s frontage on Camp Arrowhead Road to include 11-foot travel lanes and 5-foot shoulders. In addition, a left-turn lane into the community will be extended to include a left-turn lane into Cove Court, which is adjacent to the property and part of the Bay Shore community. No traffic impact study was required because the proposed daily traffic volume generated by the 42 homes falls under the 500 daily trips required for a study.
The subdivision application generated opposition from neighboring residents, including submission of a petition against the project signed by more than 500 residents. The original decision to approve the application by the commission was appealed by a group of residents to Sussex County Council. On Oct. 26, 2021, council unanimously denied the appeal and affirmed the commission’s decision.
Council President Mike Vincent said the commission’s findings include detailed reasons for its approval, including the fact that the land is in an AR-1 zoning district where property owners can build 2.17 units per acre by right. “The commission also adopted 22 conditions of approval, which minimize any adverse impact on the property owners and residents in the area, many of which address items raised by the appellants, including setbacks, buffers and the high-water mark,” he said.
He said the list of 22 conditions is among the most ever imposed on a preliminary subdivision approval. “This clearly demonstrates that the commission used careful consideration in its review and approval of the application,” he said.