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Osprey Point presents a better plan

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Sussex County Planning and Zoning commissioners voted unanimously recently to approve a revised rezoning request for the proposed development at the Old Landing Golf Course. The commissioners had a good plan to favor.

The Osprey Point community first proposed by Robert Marshall for his 127 acres included 339 mixed-use units with single-family lots and townhouses. That project would have required a rezoning from ART to Medium Density-Residential Planned Community for density above what the existing AR-1 allows. Following a hearing, attorney Jim Fuqua said Marshall had listened to concerns expressed by residents of the area along busy Old Landing Road - especially about the proposed density of three units per acre. ART zoning allows property owners two units per acre.

In response, Marshall removed all of the townhouses from his proposal and reduced the overall density to 1.7 units per acre. The updated proposal for 217 single-family lots instead of the 339 units represented a 36 percent reduction. The project still requires a rezoning to medium residential because the new proposal seeks 10,000-square-foot lots rather than the 20,000-square-foot lots required in ART zoning. Smaller lots will allow more clustering of homes and more preservation of open space on a beautiful parcel at the head of Rehoboth Bay bordering Arnell Creek. The commissioners' recommendation to Sussex County Council also requires completed streets, street lights, sidewalks on both sides of all streets, and a 25-foot buffer along Arnell Creek. While buffers should be wider, allowing smaller lots for more sensitive development, open space and buffers makes good sense.

Sussex planners and council members should make it clear that additional density without open space offsets will not even be considered. We're already zoned for development. If we keep permitted densities where they are, we can project build-outs and the necessary infrastructure to meet that build-out. But if developers continue to seek additional density, and Sussex Council approves, how can any meaningful plans be made about traffic flow, environmental impact, emergency services, schools and other infrastructure?

Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; and Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor.

Copyright 2016 Cape Gazette, Lewes, Delaware. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: July 8, 2016

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