Sussex County Council Denies OTC

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The Sussex County Council brought the Overbrook Town Center change of zone application to a vote this morning. The vote was 3 to 2 to deny the application. Councilmen Rob Arlett and Sam Wilson voted in support.

This proposal was first made to the County Council two years ago and was denied. The developer, TD Rehoboth, LLC challenged the vote and the Delaware Court of Chancery ordered a second public hearing and vote to be held. The new public hearing was held on April 10 – the council had 30 days to render a decision.

Councilman IG Burton first voted on this project as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and recommended denial then. This morning, as a County Councilman, he again voted to deny explaining that there’s nothing similar in size in the immediate area – the nearby commercial properties are all small scale businesses. Burton says the application “is not in compliance with the requirements and recommendations of the 2008 Comprehensive Land Use Plan update which protects agricultural farming, protects critical natural areas. The updates goals include conserving the county’s agricultural economy and the value of its farmland and protecting critical natural resources…” Burton also told the council that approving the application for the change of zone could have “a domino effect of highly intense commercial uses on other properties located to the south of the applicant’s site which would be in conflict with the AR-1 properties remaining – many of which are in the agricultural preservation district.”

Councilman Rob Arlett was the only member to approve the proposal in the first vote two years ago. In his commentary this morning, he told the council that the proposed site is in a growth area adjacent to Route 1 – which is a major arterial road – and will be served by central water and sewer facilities. The applicant’s proposal is in conformity with the county’s Comprehensive Plan future land use map and a change of zone to CR1 is appropriate. Arlett added that the change of zone would have a positive impact on Sussex County.

Councilman Sam Wilson agreed with Councilman Arlett’s reasons for voting to approve the application for the change of zone.

Councilman George Cole voted against the application because of the size and scale of the parcel, which is surrounded by sites of much lower density. He adds that while the parcel is in a development district, it doesn’t mean that the change of zone to CR-1 is appropriate.

Council President Mike Vincent cast the tie breaking vote to deny. He told the council that he’s not in the position to tell the developer how to spend his money, and that while there is a need for commercial property in Sussex County, this proposal is inappropriate for the area.

In other council news – there will be no meeting next Tuesday as the county council will hold a budget workshop on May 8. The next scheduled County Council meeting is on Tuesday, May 15.

May is Poppy Month and Karen Merry from the American Legion Post 28 in Oak Orchard told the County Council about poppy month and the significance of poppies with veterans.

County Engineer Hans Medlarz and Assistant County Attorney, Vince Robertson discussed a proposal to eliminate in full Chapter 10 of the County Code, which deals with water and sewers, and to amend and restate the chapter in its entirety. The ordinance amendment has been introduced. A public hearing on the amended chapter will be scheduled for a later date.