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Sussex council approves Captains Way rezoning

Some units to have garage apartments
October 17, 2019

Sussex County Council unanimously approved a rezoning to allow some garage apartments at a development between Milton and Ellendale, but not without conditions.

Captain’s Way is a planned 301-unit development on Route 16. The project was approved in 2012, but infrastructure construction is just now beginning at the site. 

Developer Captain’s Way Development LLC was seeking a zoning change from a GR-RPC, general residential planned community, to a planned community with garage studio apartments. Captain’s Way, owned by the Dyer family, wants to build one garage apartment with the rest of the units, said Planning and Zoning Director Janelle Cornwell. She said the planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the request.

Councilman Irwin G. Burton III said the developer was testing the market to see if a garage apartment could be attached to every unit in the development, which would put the total number of units to more than 600. He said he had concerns about the kind of precedent the council would be setting by approving the rezoning as is.

“This is a dramatic change,” Burton said. “The change is not only in the doubling of the density but there will also be a change to the area, to the roads, to the utilities, to the schools and to the amenities in the community itself.”

He said this could lead to requests all over the county at a time when the county infrastructure struggles to handle the density it has now. Burton said the county code envisioned allowing garage apartments like this as a way for retirees to live near their children or for a caregiver to live close by, and was intended to be a one-off, not for an entire development. 

Burton, who was on the planning and zoning commission when Captain’s Way was first approved, introduced an amendment to the rezoning that would allow for no more than 15 percent of the units - or about 45 - to have garage apartments. The amendment also states that anytime someone requests a garage studio apartment, notice should be given to all homeowners in the community.

When put to a vote, councilmen John Rieley and Sam Wilson voted against the amendment, with Burton and councilmen Mike Vincent and Doug Hudson voting in favor. After the amendment passed, a vote was held on the rezoning itself, which was then passed unanimously.