Residents make case for buffer across from facility

Sussex council approves plans for Southern Delaware Medical Center on Shady Road
October 4, 2022

Story Location:
Shady Road
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

Some residents who live across from a proposed medical center on Shady Road near Lewes say they want a buffer placed in front of their homes to shield them from traffic and vehicle lights. The problem is that the land where the buffer would go is not owned by the applicant.

Southern Delaware Medical Center LLC filed a conditional-use application for a 32,960-square-foot medical and professional office complex on a two-acre parcel at 17611 Shady Road near Lewes. The two-story building would have 127 parking spaces. At its Sept. 27 meeting, Sussex County Council approved the application.

Plans include a 20-foot landscaped perimeter buffer, with water provided by Tidewater Utilities and sewer by Sussex County. The builder is Lighthouse Construction.

Hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday.

During the public hearing, Ray Hellerman, a resident of Somerset Green, presented a petition signed by 36 residents opposed to the project because of the proposed access point off Shady Road.

“We are requesting a buffer from this proposed project,” he said. “We want some privacy screening on the west side of Shady Road. We are vulnerable.”

District 3 Councilman Mark Schaeffer said requiring a buffer on land the applicant doesn't own would be difficult to achieve.

Sussex County Planning & Zoning Director Jamie Whitehouse said staff has been meeting with members of the Somerset Green homeowners association for the past three months to discuss a revised site plan, including fencing along the perimeter. He said staff could approach the HOA citing the residents’ concerns.

“We don’t want a revised site plan; we want a buffer or a fence where cars will exit,” Hellerman said. 

The plan includes 26 parking spaces within the front-yard setback along Shady Road. The planning & zoning commission imposed a condition prohibiting parking spaces in the front-yard setback.

Council removed that condition to allow parking in the setback.

Mackenzie Peet, the applicant’s attorney, said the design of the building with a required covered front entrance for safety reasons takes away parking spaces, resulting in the need for parking in the front-yard setback. “Many other properties have parking in the front-yard setback, including many medical facilities,” she said.

Council voted 5-0 to approve the application. Schaeffer said he was voting for the application because of the enormous need for professional offices in eastern Sussex County. In addition, he said, he's confident the HOA will investigate the possibility of a buffer as requested by residents.


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