Ritter application should be approved

December 16, 2022

Atlantic Concrete Co. has a large sign on Old Orchard Road that warns those in the area about the firm’s work. It reads: “We are an early rising and extremely hardworking concrete plant. Unfortunately, our work inherently is noisy and very dusty.” The sign also says Atlantic Concrete has been in business for 45 years and plans to remain for at least another 45. It’s the company’s way of saying, “We were here first.” Development has surrounded the concrete plant on all sides, and it’s likely some new residents were unaware of the operation. Some have complained.  

A similar situation is unfolding on Plantation Road with Howard L. Ritter & Sons, a borrow pit and landscape materials business that’s used the same land since the mid-1970s. Because it predates Sussex County zoning code, the owners are seeking a conditional use to continue operations. Nearby residents are opposing the application due to concerns ranging from its effect on the health of neighbors to general nuisance issues. 

After complaints by neighbors, Ritter & Sons dropped concrete crushing and mulching operations from the application; they now only seek to continue operation of borrow pits and to sell soil, stone, mulch and other landscaping materials.

Even with that concession, some residents are not satisfied; they want a larger buffer between their houses and the main entrance, and some sort of watering system to reduce the dust.

Ritter & Sons were there long before any of the homes surrounding the 51-acre property. The burden should not fall on this longtime business to change because new residents did not fully research the area when purchasing a home. 

The not-in-my-backyard argument is common as the area continues to grow. In some cases, concerns are valid. In this case, we do not believe they are. 

Based on comments at a November meeting, it appears the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission understands the Ritter situation, and we are confident the application will be approved. 


  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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