The Delaware Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of a conditional use permit and a preliminary development plan for a condominium development on Houk Road during its meeting Wednesday. Proposed by WEEE LLC are 42 single-family, attached condominiums on approximately 18.28 acres located on the west side of Houk Road and just north of Greenlawn Drive.
Twenty-one buildings would make up the Houk Road Condominiums development, and they would be divided into nine single-story ranches with a full walkout lower level and 12 single-story ranches with a full basement. Each unit would have a two-car garage and range from 1,500-2,000 square feet.
Overall, the site’s density with 42 units would be 2.29 units per acre, according to city documents for the proposal. Those documents suggest the proposal fits well under the maximum density rates for the area under both the city’s current comprehensive plan and the new Delaware Together Comprehensive Plan set to be considered by Delaware City Council next week.
Michael Shade, the attorney representing the developers, said the process of getting to a preliminary development plan for the condominiums began in the early 2000s when George Rodman first approached Shade about helping him through the process.
Shade said the early iterations of the proposed development, when it was simply a concept review submitted to the city, were something he could not support because he didn’t feel it would be in the best interest of the community. Shade suggested the developers start anew and submit a fresh look on the proposal. Through the process, and with guidance from the city, Shade said he felt a “great creation” has come forth, and one that “compliments the various condominium projects in the area.”
“It is certainly something that I think will add to and compliment the housing in that general area,” Shade said.
Several residents living near the proposed development participated during the public speaking portion of Wednesday’s meeting to discuss concerns they have regarding the proposal. Among the topics of concern from residents was the traffic impact the development would have, as well as the buffering proposed to screen the condos from existing residents.
The north setback, which includes 7.8 acres of conservation land, will provide a natural and considerable setback. To the west, a 50-foot setback has been proposed by the developers with the preservation of existing trees ensuring at least a 6-foot high buffer. Along Greenlawn Drive, a 4 to 6-foot mound has been proposed as a buffer.
For the recently constructed home on Greenlawn Drive, which would be surrounded on three sides by the development, a landscape package that would include street trees, front yard trees, perimeter buffering, and screening adjacent to the home has been proposed.
Gary Milner, who owns the home on Greenlawn Drive with his wife, Teresa, pointed out that nearly eight acres of the proposed development site exist within the city’s flood plain, which shouldn’t be factored in when calculating density. He added he does not want to see the trees cut down along Greenlawn Drive, which he and his wife chose to keep as a natural buffer between them and the neighbors when they built the home.
While residents were free to state their personal concerns, Planning Commission Chairman Stacy Simpson pointed out that there are certain aspects of the proposal that are beyond the evaluation of the commission if those aspects fit within what is already permitted.
“I think it’s really important to note that the property owner does have certain rights,” Simpson said. “They have the right to do with that property what they wish to do with that property, so those aren’t particular questions that we can answer. And while (the questions) are relevant to the case, they’re not questions that the commission is gonna partake in. The property owner has the right to do with his property what he is legally allowed to do.”
However, Simpson said there are some expressed concerns the commission can address, beginning with the traffic impact the condos would have. Carrie Fortman, a city engineer, said a traffic impact study has been conducted in conjunction with the developer. Regarding concerns about the number of access points to the development, Fortman said the two right-in, right-out entrances and exits on Greenlawn Drive are necessary to “facilitate any life safety or emergency and fire equipment.”
“These access points have been reviewed by staff on multiple occasions, and presently, the engineering staff and the planning staff would agree they are amenable; we are comfortable with them,” Fortman went on to say. “I can respect the desire of the existing residents to limit that, but at this point in time, we don’t have any questions or concern with it.”
As for concerns on density, which were voiced during the public speaking portion of the discussion, Delaware Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland called the proposed density for the condos “extremely low” at around two units per acre. Efland said such a density rate is more in line with township levels than it is within city limits.
With the recommendations, the requests will now go before council for approval. The first reading for the requests will be held during the next council meeting, scheduled for Monday, April 12. Meetings are held virtually and can be streamed via the city’s Facebook page.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.