Residents plan appeal of homeless shelter decision

Citizens say Belltown church location near Five Points is not safe for anyone
September 15, 2017

Story Location:
Lewes-Georgetown Highway
Church Street
Lewes  Delaware
United States

Residents in two nearby communities are set to appeal to Superior Court a Sussex County Board of Adjustment decision allowing a special-use exception to Faith United Methodist Church for a homeless shelter at a former church in Belltown, at Church Street and Route 9 near Lewes.

The application was filed on behalf of Immanuel Shelter in Rehoboth Beach. The plan is to refurbish the the former John Wesley U.M. Church, located on a 2-acre parcel near Five Points, and then build an additional building that would house 18 to 24 people. Residents would stay 30 to 90 days and receive counseling; shelter residents would also be required to seek employment.

Speaking on behalf of residents’ groups in proximity to the property, Henlopen Landing and Lewes Crossing, Ken Bartholomew said an earlier appeal was filed with Sussex officials asking for a rehearing or withdrawal of the decision. He said the county has not responded to the appeal.

He said the residents’ groups are prepared to take their appeal to court on Monday, Sept. 18. Adding to the traffic congestion problem in the area has been one of the concerns raised by opponents.

“We all know it’s not a safe place for them and not a safe place for us,” Bartholomew said. “There’s got to be a better place.”

The board voted 3-1 in June to grant the request for a special-use exception. During hearing testimony, proponents said the shelter would generate minimal traffic, would not affect property values and would fit in with the current commercial development along Route 9.

See more in the Tuesday, Sept. 19 edition of the Cape Gazette.