Vines of Sand Hill residents want their amenities

After years of delays, developer tells Sussex officials site work will begin within two weeks
December 3, 2021

Story Location:
Huff Road
Milton, DE 19958
United States

For the past few months, Vines of Sand Hill subdivision residents have been attending Sussex County Council meetings and speaking out about the lack of amenities in their community.

The amenities - including a 9,900-square-foot clubhouse, pool, tennis courts and bocce court - were supposed to be completed within two years after the first building permit was issued. The subdivision was approved in 2008, but the first building permit wasn't issued until 2017. According to the approved site plan, amenities should have been built in 2019.

The developer, Anthony Sposato, was granted a time extension by Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission to begin construction this November.

At the request of Council President Mike Vincent, an update on the project was presented during council’s Nov. 16 meeting by Sussex County Director of Planning and Zoning Jamie Whitehouse.

The subdivision along Huff Road off Sand Hill Road near Milton will contain 400 single-family lots on 261 acres. A separate amenities plan was approved by planning and zoning commission in February 2018. A revised plan reducing the size of the clubhouse to 6,685 square feet was approved.

Whitehouse said Sposato listed financial reasons for requesting a reduction in the size of the clubhouse.

On the community's website, mention of amenities includes the following: “Neighbors will become friends at the planned lodge with wine room, cheese room, yoga studio, fitness center, star-gazing lounge, outdoor kitchen area and pool.”

Clock is ticking

The director said he received an email from the developer Nov. 12 stating ground has been broken for the clubhouse with installation of a silt fence, and site work, including removal of dirt and trees, has been scheduled within the next two weeks.

On May 13, commissioners granted a time extension for the developer to begin clubhouse construction within six months and have the work completed within 18 months or by the issuance of the 136th building permit, whichever came first. The six-month deadline was Nov. 13.

As of the Nov. 16 county council meeting, Whitehouse said a building permit for the clubhouse has not been filed by the developer. “I’m told he is going to comply,” he said, adding that he plans to meet with the developer as soon as possible.

He said now that site work has started, the 18-month clock for completion is ticking. Whitehouse said it could take three to four weeks for the county to issue a permit once the application is received.
“We will allow above-ground site work to start while a developer is getting a building permit,” he said.

No square footage requirements

Whitehouse told council under current county code, there are no requirements for square footage of amenities.

“There is no conflict with county code, but that does not override any existing agreement between the developer and residents,” Whitehouse said. “There is nothing in code that links clubhouse size to the number of units.”

Vincent was frustrated that council had no way to force the developer to adhere to the original amenities plan.

“Why would we approve a plan less than the first site plan?” asked Vincent.

He said council should take action to ensure this situation never happens again. He said it’s not been a pleasant experience for residents who bought homes with the promise of a 9,900-square-foot, two-story clubhouse.

Vincent said the only recourse residents have is to file a lawsuit against the developer. “There is a potential for that,” said county attorney J. Everett Moore.

Whitehouse said 99 building permits have been applied for and 96 have been issued in the community. He said 66 certificates of occupancy have been granted.





Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter