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Overbrook coalition rallies opponents of rezoning

Sussex council’s court-ordered second hearing set for Feb. 27
February 13, 2018

Story Location:
Cave Neck Road
Coastal Highway
Milton  Delaware
United States

A local grassroots organization is circulating a petition against the proposed rezoning of 114 acres that would pave the way for a shopping center along Route 1 at the Cave Neck Road intersection north of Lewes.

The Overbrook Town Center Coalition has reached out to its more than 3,000 email subscribers in an effort to garner opposition to the rezoning and urge people to testify at the public hearing or write letters to county council members

As ordered by Chancery Court, Sussex County Council has scheduled a new public hearing for a rezoning application for the Overbrook Town Center, a 850,000-square-foot shopping center, the largest commercial project ever proposed in the county.

The re-hearing is scheduled for 10:15 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 27, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.

Council voted 4-1 on April 12, 2016, to deny a rezoning request filed by TD Rehoboth LLC, a Timonium, Md. developer, from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to CR-1, commercial residential, for the 114-acre parcel of farmland.

The developers filed suit June 8, 2016, in Chancery Court against council, stating three council members who voted against the application made statements not supported by the public record.

On Aug. 11, following briefings and oral arguments, the court granted the plaintiff's motion and ordered a new public hearing.

Vice Chancellor Joseph Slights wrote: “The rezoning application must be resubmitted to council for another vote. That vote will be what it will be. And so long as the record of the vote is adequate to allow for meaningful review, and the vote itself is not the product of arbitrary or capricious decision-making, the results of the vote, whatever they are, will stand.”

Council members Mike Vincent, Sam Wilson, George Cole and Joan Deaver, who has since retired, voted against the application. Councilman Rob Arlett voted in favor. The county's planning and zoning commission had recommended approval of the application.

As a member of the county's planning and zoning commission at the time, Councilman I.G. Burton voted to recommend denial of the application.

Attorney: CR-1 is the request

Over the past few months, a modified plan has surfaced with 300,000 square feet of commercial space on 54 acres and 135 single-family homes on 60 acres.

“There have been seven different site plans. It could be anything, and that's a real concern,” said coalition spokesman Rich Borrasso. “We are unsure what will show up. There is confusion about what will happen that day.”

Jim Fuqua, the developer's attorney, said the pending application requests rezoning of the site to CR-1. He would not comment on possible changes to the original plan.

In previous testimony, Fuqua said under county code, the proposed plan for the site has no bearing on the rezoning application.

Presentation of conceptual plans or preliminary site plans during public hearings is at the discretion of the applicant; when an applicant files a rezoning request, project plans are not required by the planning and zoning commission or county council. Plans are presented after approval is granted; plans are then reviewed by the planning and zoning commission but not by council.

Interchange would be required

Delaware Department of Transportation officials have informed the developer that a grade-separated interchange similar to those constructed along Route 1 in Kent County would be required to gain access to the parcel.

During an October 2017 meeting of state agencies as part of the state’s Preliminary Land Use Service process, DelDOT officials offered three options to the developer.

DelDOT has identified the Route 1-Cave Neck Road intersection as an interchange location in its long-range plan for Route 1 with construction scheduled for fiscal year 2024. Officials said the developer would wait until DelDOT does the project.

The developer could design and build the interchange to state standards or DelDOT and the developer could pursue a public/private partnership for the project.

Estimates for the cost of the interchange are more than $10 million.

Coalition: 'Devastating setback'

Borrasso said the proposed center is out of character with the area as the parcel is bordered by farms and the Great Marsh.

“And the increased traffic will have great impact on an already degraded system,” Borrasso said.

“Through 18 months of work on the 2018 comprehensive plan, the county recognizes and is committed to address the failing levels of service on county roadways and especially Route 1,” Borrasso said. “Any thought of allowing the proposed regional shopping center at the intersection of Route 1 and Cave Neck Road would be contradictory to this effort and a devastating setback.”

In addition, he said, the parcel is in a Delaware State Strategies for Policies and Spending Level 4 area where state agencies do not support most types of development.

Go to http://stateplanning.delaware.gov/strategies/invest4.shtml for a complete explanation of a Level 4 area.

The public record on the application is available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays at the county’s planning and zoning office in the administration building.

 

TIME LINE

2015

April 23 – Planning and zoning commission public hearing

June 2 – County council public hearing

June 11 – Planning and zoning commission votes 3-2 recommending approval of application

2016

April 12 – County council votes 4-1 to deny application

June 8 – Developer files lawsuit in Chancery Court against council

Aug. 11 – Court sides with developer and orders a new hearing

2017

Sept. 19 – Council votes not to pursue appeal of court decision

Sept. 27 – New PLUS meeting on 135-lot single-family subdivision on 66 acres of parcel

Oct. 17 – Development team meets with DelDOT officials

Oct. 27 – Before deadline, developer files for a new public hearing

2018

Feb. 27 – Rehearing on application scheduled at 10:15 a.m.