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Residents protest proposed assisted living facility

Call for new hearing on proposed 88-bed facility
Residents who are opposed to an assisted living facility line up Feb. 11 in front of the property along Shuttle Road near Rehoboth Beach. Work is already underway on an age-restricted community on the 23-acre parcel. RON MACARTHUR PHOTO
February 17, 2017

Story Location:
Shuttle Road
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware
United States

Residents took to the streets on Feb. 11 to highlight their opposition to a proposed assisted living facility along Shuttle Road near Rehoboth Beach.

Residents, who have petitioned the Sussex County Board of Adjustment to reopen the public record, say they are frustrated at delays by the board to make a decision on the application.

The board is considering a special-use exception filed by James Truitt Farm LLC to construct an 88-unit assisted living facility as Phase 2 of an ongoing aging-in-place community. On Nov. 17, 2015, Sussex County Council approved a conditional-use application for 90 single-family condominiums on the 23-acre, medium-density zoned parcel, the former site of a par-3 golf course and driving range.

“This is not the site for a commercial building like that,” said resident Tony Latina.

He said residents are not opposed to the homes under construction on the parcel. “But the assisted living facility is a little too much for us to take lying down,” he said.

The board held a public hearing on the application Dec. 19 and then closed the public record. The board has yet to vote on the application, tabling the application on Jan. 23 and then again on Feb. 6. The application has been placed on the Monday, Feb. 20 agenda.

Residents have asked the board to reopen the public record and have another public hearing to allow more residents an opportunity to comment.

According to the residents, the hearing took place just a few days before the four-day Christmas holiday when many area residents were away from home or preoccupied with holiday preparations.

In addition, the residents say public notice of the application was minimal, and residents of affected nearby communities were not given proper notice of the upcoming hearing. Many say they were not aware of the subject of the application.

Board attorney Jamie Sharp said the board has the authority to reopen the public record, but taking that action is rare. No mention was made of the petition during the Feb. 6 meeting.

Jim Fuqua, attorney for the applicant, said conducting hearings in the middle of December has been common practice for more than four decades. “The hearing was properly advertised and people could have commented at the hearing or sent emails or letters,” he said. “The record has been made and to treat this application any differently than the more than 11,000 other applications over the past 47 years would be unfair to my client.”