It wasn't business as usual at the April 4 Sussex County Board of Adjustment meeting – not when the Biden name is attached to an application.
First Lady Jill Biden recently filed an application for three variances related to security fencing at the Biden home at 32 Far View Road in North Shores near Rehoboth Beach.
The request came from the U.S. Secret Service, the agency charged with providing security for President Joe Biden and his family when they visit the home, which they purchased in June 2017.
The presentation and discussion lasted less than 20 minutes, and the board voted 4-0 to approve the variances.
Work can proceed when the board's action is officially codified after the findings of fact are made part of the public record, a process that usually takes about a month.
Turnstone Holdings LLC CEO Harvey Ryan made the presentation to the board on behalf of the Bidens. The Rehoboth beach builder was awarded a $445,000 contract by the Department of Homeland Security, with the Secret Service as the subagency, to construct the fence. Modifications to the contract have increased the cost to $463,000.
“The property is unique in size and presented a challenge for security,” Ryan said. “It was purchased before security measures were required. These are minimum variances with the least modifications as possible.”
He said the plans were approved by the community's homeowners association.
According to the application, without the variances, the requested security measures identified by the Secret Service could not be implemented.
Variances are needed when changes to existing county regulations are requested, including fence heights and property-line setbacks. The maximum height for rear- and side-yard fences in the county is 7 feet, and the maximum along the front of a property is 3.5 feet.
In this case, the following variances were granted: 3 feet to construct a 10-foot aluminum fence along the rear property line; 3 feet for a 10-foot fence with stone columns along the side yards; and one-half foot for a 4-foot stone fence in front of the house.
Board member Jeff Chorman asked what happens to the fence if the property is sold. “When there is no need for protection, what happens to the fence?” he asked.
Board attorney Jamie Sharp said the fence will become part of the property when it's constructed.
The Biden property is approximately 15,000 square feet, and about 500 feet of fence will be required.
Information on the fence contract is available at USAspending.gov.