L.T. Associates wants to submit new plan

Townsend Village Centre lawsuit on hold until 2015
August 12, 2014
This conceptual sketch of the Townsend Village Centre was used during public hearings on the proposed project. SOURCE SUSSEX COUNTY

An ongoing federal  lawsuit involving Sussex County's denial of the Townsend Village Centre complex has a new twist.

The plaintiff, L.T. Associates LLC, was granted a stay in federal court through May 28, 2015, to allow time to develop and submit a new land-use plan application to be presented to Sussex County officials.

County council rejected the developer's zoning-change application by a 3-2 vote Jan. 19, 2010. Lingo-Townsend Associates filed a lawsuit against the council for denying the zoning change, which would have paved the way for a 300,000-square-foot Townsend Village Centre shopping and office complex, planned on 46 acres off Kings Highway just outside Lewes city limits. On Oct. 14, 2009, the county's planning and zoning commission recommended denial of the application by the same 3-2 vote.

The Lewes-based developer claims its constitutional rights were violated. L.T. Associates appealed the decision to Chancery Court and refiled the case in federal court, which their attorney said had jurisdiction.

The developer contends the council’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence on the record of the public hearing and that Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, “actively undertook to oppose, to encourage opposition to, and to seek denial of the application” when she was supposed to be impartial.

The developers went through the county review process twice after withdrawing an application Dec. 16, 2008, for a 521,000-square-foot complex on 68 acres. Plans were changed because of concerns expressed by area residents.

The two motions for summary judgement in the case are being held in abeyance during the stay, said Chief Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge.