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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Townhome project in West Ocean City downgraded

By Hunter Hine, Staff Writer

Proposed new development reduced to 19 units for first phase due to lack of water

Developers and designers for the proposed 4 Seasons Townhome community split their building plan into two phases because there isn’t yet enough water service assigned to the West Ocean City plots to serve the project’s dwelling capacity.

At their Nov. 2 meeting, members of the Worcester County Planning Commission unanimously approved the concept plans for the townhomes, which were compiled by Vista Design Inc., an engineering consultant company from Showell. Tauhid Islam is owner of the applicant company, Oceans 8, LLC.

The review was the second step of concept plan review for Islam’s proposed townhome community and follows an Oct. 11 review by the Worcester County Technical Review Committee.

Islam plans to build 44 townhome units across lot 1B and lot 2A of parcel 445 and lot E1 of parcel 443 of the Worcester County tax maps, which are just south of the Green Turtle restaurant on Route 611. The combined lots make up about 6.42 acres.

In June, the county rezoned the lots from R-1 Rural Residential to R-4 General Residential.

Because there are only 20 equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) of water and wastewater service attached to the property, Islam and designers from Vista are now proposing to construct just 19 of the units as the first project phase.

EDUs are a water and wastewater capacity measurement that is required for any development that intends to use or discharge water.

“Any single-family residence, not being used for any other purpose, shall be classified as one ‘equivalent dwelling unit’ rating,” according to the Worcester County Zoning and Subdivision Control Article.

After the meeting, Zoning Administrator Kristen Tremblay said that the planning commission set the maximum number of units at 19 so there was some buffer room with the EDU capacity.

The developers plan on building the rest of the proposed 44 units once they can acquire an adequate number of EDUs from the county, Tremblay said.

In the agenda packet for the Oct. 11 Technical Review Committee’s review of the townhome plans, the committee asked developers to talk to the county’s Environmental Programs department to find out the current and future availability of EDUs.

“Also, note that developments with less than 20 units do not require RPC [residential planned communities] approvals,” according to the agenda packet from the Technical Review Committee. “In the event that 20 units or less are proposed as a basic subdivision action, this does not prevent future applications for additional units as part of a RPC,” according to the packet.

The county zoning and subdivision code defines minor residential planned communities as having 20 or fewer units, while major residential planned communities have over 20 units.

When the project was proposed to be constructed as 44 units at once, it was classified as a major residential planned community, but now, at least for the 19-unit phase one of the project, it has been downgraded to a minor residential planned district.

Concept plan review processes differ for major and minor RPCs. Both designations must get approval from the Technical Review Committee and then the Planning Commission, but only major RPCs have to get approval from the county commissioners.

Since this project is now considered a minor RPC, it will go on to an implementation plan, where developers and designers submit subdivision plat drawings and site plans. After that, they can start applying for building permits, Tremblay said.

Had the project continued as a major RPC, it would have had to go through a process for master plan approval, then complete the implementation plan.

If or when the owners get enough EDUs to add the rest of the units, they will have to go through the full process of approval for a major RPC, Tremblay said.

At the Technical Review Committee meeting on Oct. 11, members also requested that developers change the name to something other than the 4 Seasons Townhome Community, which they said was too close to the title of other developments in the area.