Sussex County Council has approved a rezoning that will allow expansion for Big Oyster Brewery near Lewes.
At its May 14 meeting, council voted 3-0 in favor of a rezoning from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to C-3 heavy commercial district for a 1.3-acre parcel off Kings Highway behind the restaurant and brewery, and also extending behind First Baptist Church of Lewes and Lane Builders.
The property will be used to expand Big Oyster, said attorney David Hutt, who is representing developer Jeff Kat LLC. The property, owned by Mitchell Family LLC, is part of a nearly 50-acre parcel designated for future development. Hutt said five applications are pending in the county land-use process for the property.
Hutt said Big Oyster needs more space for parking and consolidation of off-site storage. He said during busy times, patrons have to park across Kings Highway.
He said the company was recently named the second top independent craft brewer in the United States for 2018.
Councilman Doug Hudson asked about screening and fencing between the restaurant and First Baptist Church.
Hutt said the owner would provide fencing and other appropriate screenings to continue to be a good neighbor to the church, as well as Lane Builders and Jefferson Apartments.
“That will take place at the site-plan level, and we will make sure your concerns are taken into consideration,” said Sussex County Planning and Zoning Director Janelle Cornwell.
David Monroe, pastor of First Baptist Church of Lewes, said for the most part the restaurant has been a good neighbor. However, he said, some infringements have occurred that concern the church including patrons parking in the church parking lot.
“Other times people have walked across the property that is the house of our assistant pastor, and that infringement has become more and more common,” he said. “We would like some consideration on these couple of issues.”
Monroe was assured that the issues would be addressed during the site-plan review process.
“I'm sure the owner heard your concerns and will be a good neighbor,” said Council President Mike Vincent.