Sussex County's Board of Adjustment approved a special-use exception for a senior living facility near the intersection of Plantation and Cedar Grove roads between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. The project was approved the same night it was presented to the board.
At its Dec. 11 meeting, the board voted 4-0 to approve an application filed by J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co. and Plantation Partners LLC for a 160,000-square-foot, 144-unit facility on a 10-acre parcel.
David Hutt, the developer's attorney, said the presentation was not a site-plan review but a report to the board to show the proposed use would not have a substantial adverse affect on neighboring properties, which is the main criteria the board uses to make a determination.
Hutt said there would be no impact on surrounding properties because the parcel is bordered on two sides by Townsend farmland, another by Plantation Road and on the north by a parcel owned by HKLS LLC, which sent a letter of support for the application. HKLS has filed an application to rezone a parcel along Cedar Grove Road from AR-1 to B-1 neighborhood business district.
The developer is required to obtain agency and site plan approvals. This type of facility is a permitted use on AR-1, agricultural-residential, land with approval of a special-use exception.
Hutt said the need for this type of seniors' housing is well documented.
He said the county's population increased more than 9 percent between 2010 and 2015, and one in four residents are 65 years of age or older, with the largest percentage of seniors living east of Route 113.
Plantation Senior Living will provide a continuum of care, said Doug Motley, a principal in the LLC. "Residents will be able to age in place at the facility as their needs change over time," he said. Three options will be provided: independent and assisted living and memory care.
Motley said a market study revealed the demand for senior facilities not only because of an influx of seniors living in and moving to the area but existing senior living facilities have nearly 100 percent occupancy.
Hutt used an overlay map to show substantial residential and commercial growth since 1992 in the area of the project. He said the parcel is in a Sussex County and state-supported growth area. The project will be served by Tidewater Utilities for central water and Sussex County for sewer service.
Access points off Plantation Road and Cedar Grove roads are planned, but the final determination for all road work is subject to Delaware Department of Transportation review and approval, Hutt said. Because fewer than 500 vehicle trips per day are expected, Hutt said, DelDOT officials did not require a traffic-impact study.
Hutt said the developer hired an archeologist to delineate the borders of an existing Ebenezer Episcopal Methodist Church cemetery at the proposed entrance off Cedar Grove Road so that no graves will be disturbed.
Hutt said the buildings will be three stories high with a 60-foot buffer along Plantation Road, 20 more feet than required by county code. In addition, 99 parking spaces are proposed – 25 more spaces than required by county code.
He said the facility is expected to hire 50 full-time and 25 part-time employees.