Sussex County Council said no to a developer's request for a rezoning and conditional use to construct 150 apartments on a 12.5-acre parcel at the intersection of Old Mill Road and Route 1 north of Lewes.
However, council unanimously approved the developer's application for a commercial rezoning to build a 4,700-square-foot office complex on the same parcel.
Nassau DE Acquisition Co. LLC had filed applications to rezone 12.5 acres from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to MR, medium-density residential, and a conditional-use application for multifamily housing and to rezone nearly 3 acres from AR-1 to C-2 commercial for an office complex.
Before making the motion for denial, Councilman I.G. Burton, R-Lewes, said, “One application makes sense because commercial is in character with the area. The others make no sense. Going from two to 12 units makes no sense to me.”
The proposed rezoning for multifamily housing would have allowed up to 12 units per acre. The current AR-1 zoning allows for 2 units per acre.
Burton said the parcel is surrounded for the most part by single-family homes on large lots and low-intensity commercial. The parcel is adjacent to five small subdivisions that use Old Mill Road to get to Route 1. “Access to Old Mill Road is not sufficient,” he said.
Burton said parcels east of Route 1 in the environmentally sensitive developing area overlay zone such as this one should remain the base AR-1 zoning. He said it's important to protect farmland, water resources and the environment.
Councilmen Burton, George Cole, R-Ocean View, and President Mike Vincent, R-Seaford, voted against the applications for multifamily housing. Councilmen Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, and Sam Wilson, R-Georgetown, voted in favor. The planning and zoning commission had recommended approval of the applications.
“I agree that the east side of Route 1 should remain low density,” Cole said.
Vincent said had proposed road improvements along Route 1 in front of the property been completed, he may have made a different decision.
Opponents living east of the parcel said the apartments were out of character with the surrounding area and would generate additional traffic on Old Mill Road.