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Sussex board denies height variance

Plans for new Route 1 hotel hit a stumbling block
August 8, 2017

Story Location:
19178 Coastal Highway
Rehoboth Beach  Delaware
United States

The developer of a planned Tru by Hilton hotel may have to go back to the drawing board.

With a 5-0 vote at its Aug. 7 meeting, the Sussex County Board of Adjustment denied a height variance application for the hotel along Route 1 near Rehoboth Beach at the site of Jake’s Seafood House.

KLEM LLC applied for a maximum 8-foot height variance for the roof and a little more than 13 feet for the HVAC system on top of the roof. The maximum height of the hotel would be just under 56 feet. County code allows for buildings no taller than 42 feet.

Jim Fuqua, the applicant's attorney, said the hotel could not be built without a height variance, which creates a hardship. He said the company brand requires all of its hotels to have the same design.

The board did not agree.

“This is more a desire than a need,” said board member John Mills. “They have failed to demonstrate there are any physical elements unique about this property. It's their own creation and none other in a need for a variance.”

Board member Norman “Bud” Rickard said it's incumbent on the board to enforce the 42-foot restriction.

Board member Ellen Magee said the applicant could build another commercial building on the parcel without a variance.

“There are no unique conditions there. They could build a hotel with a different design,” said board member E. Brent Workman.

“This variance would alter the essential character of the neighborhood,” Mills said.

The owner of the adjacent Comfort Inn had testified in opposition to the variance.

Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission approved the hotel's site plan on April 6.

Board of adjustment decisions can be appealed to Superior Court. The applicant’s attorney said a decision has not been reached on filing an appeal.

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