The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission in southern Delaware played the role of judge as Land Tech Land Planning LLC and Ocean View residents aired their feelings about a proposed cottage-RV complex equipped with an attached amusement park, the Salisbury (Md.) Daily Times reported.
Residents sent 255 letters opposing the proposal to the commission, as well as petitions with 216 signatures. Among their primary concerns were diminished property values, destruction of the environment and increased noise and traffic in the community.
“The main reason we chose this area was because it wasn’t overly residential,” said Harry Kreger, an Ocean View resident for more than 16 years. “The vast majority of people came here for the quietness, the solitude and the natural beauty surrounding us.”
Castaways Bethany has applied for three zoning changes. The proposed 38-acre complex would encompass 60 multi-family cottages in “quintessential Bethany” architecture. The cottages would be 720 square feet in two-story bungalow fashion.
The complex would also feature 139 RV campsites, equipped with sewer, water and electricity hookups and accompanying parking spaces. Both would be seasonal rentals available on a weekly basis.
Todd Burbage of Blue Water Development Corp. in Berlin, Md., and owner of Castaways Ocean City, suggested many people have false beliefs about RV users.
“Camping today is a family affair. This is exactly what Bethany Beach and Ocean View is,” Burbage said.
Mary Schrider-Fox, an attorney representing the residents, stated a seasonal RV park does not satisfy the conditions required in a mixed-residential zone. “These are not the type of residential dwellings intended by a mixed-residential zone,” she said.
The proposal also includes a 6.9-acre outdoor water park.
In defending the project, Burbage said his brother lives in the community.
“If I felt for one moment this would devalue my brother’s way of life or the community he lives in, I wouldn’t do it,” Burbage said. “We don’t want to put something in the community that we wouldn’t be proud of.”
Randy Barton, a resident and real estate agent, said the presence of a water park will affect the surrounding community.
He’s been to water parks before. They’re noisy, and there’s not much project designers can do to cap the volume.
“The use of trailers – it’s people, dogs are noisy. That’s the way it is. There’s not much you can do to suppress noise levels in a community, particularly when you have a water park involved.”
Attorney James Fuqua, representing Land Tech Planning LLC, said it’s unfair to compare noise levels and traffic volumes of the vacant lot to the proposed complex.
The lot has already been approved for The Seasons apartment complex.
Castaways Bethany is projected to create between 64 and 94 jobs, but most positions will be seasonal.
According to the project designers’ proposed vision statement, one of the complex’s purposes was to manufacture more year-round positions.
The Planning & Zoning Commission will make a recommendation to Sussex County Council, which will hear the proposals Sept. 25.
Schrider-Fox concluded her statement by charging the project designers with catering to the wants of prospective tourists over the needs of the current community.
“With RVs, traffic coming into a residential community, it’s going to cause a problem,” she said. “It’s not creating convenience; it’s creating an inconvenience that’s going to come with an outdoor amusement park and services that cater to tourists.”