Route 24 rezoning: more specifics needed

September 6, 2013

Herola Family LLC and Artisans’ Bank have asked Sussex County to rezone a 25-acre parcel of land fronting Route 24 north of Beebe Medical Center’s Route 24 health campus from agricultural/residential to commercial. This is one request that has been flying very low on the radar screen.

At a recent public hearing before Sussex County Council, Councilman George Cole in­sisted, rightly, that any plans for the property must include completing a connector road between Route 24 and Old Landing Road. It’s nice to hear a member of council pressing for written commitments before such rezon­ings are granted. The connector road Cole wants guaranteed will add further to the grid network in the Route 1 corridor, and that can only help.

The larger question, however, is what is being planned for the parcel? A spokesman for the applicants says only that a commercial/re­tail complex is being planned. Is that enough information to grant a rezoning on a sub­stantial piece of productive agricultural land that will instantly increase the value of the land to the owners by millions of dollars and radically intensify the use of the land? Com­mercial zoning permits a wide variety of uses including retail, construction yards, bottling works, greenhouses, farm implement sales and service, vehicle sales and storage, materi­als storage, bakeries and lots more.

When the Lingo-Townsend group went before Sussex County Council for the contro­versial rezoning of a piece of agricultural land to commercial for the Village Centre, rep­resentatives came with a fully designed and detailed plan that the public could consider.

Herola Family LLC and Artisans’ Bank should do no less with this proposed rezoning. Re­zonings are supposed to be done to benefit the community’s welfare, not just to enhance the value of a landowner’s property.

Without specifics about what is planned for the rezoned property, how can the public, or Sussex County Council, form an intelligent opinion about whether the proposed rezon­ing will be a public benefit or just add further to the congestion of Route 1?

This rezoning should be denied unless further details are provided about how the property will be used.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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