Sussex council denies School Lane project

Members voice concerns over proposed MR zoning setting a precedent in area
May 16, 2023

Sussex County Council has shut the door on a proposed multifamily townhome project along Route 24 adjacent to Love Creek Elementary School.

The proposed School Lane project included 80 multifamily units on a 22-acre parcel on the westbound side of Route 24, one-quarter mile from the Mulberry Knoll Road intersection. Three applications, including a future land-use map amendment, rezoning and conditional use, were required.

With concerns about the density of the proposal and overriding positive recommendations from the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission, council voted 3-2 against rezoning the parcel from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to MR, medium-density residential, and 5-0 against a conditional use required for multifamily housing.

In AR-1 zoning, two housing units per acre are permitted. In MR zoning districts, up to four units per acre are allowed.

Council voted 4-1 in favor of changing the land designation to a coastal area.

Councilman John Rieley, who voted against all three applications, said he was concerned that upzoning of the parcel would set a precedent for other housing projects in the immediate area. “I can envision two to three times more units,” he said.

Voting for the rezoning application were Councilwoman Cindy Green and Council President Mike Vincent, with council members Rieley, Mark Schaeffer and Doug Hudson voting against it.

Council had deferred a decision on the applications at its Aug. 30, 2022 meeting.

Plans for project

Applicant and landowner J.G. Townsend Jr. and Company had submitted an amended plan based on recommendations from council, including four fewer units, down from 84 to 80 multifamily units, and preserving 5.26 acres of the woodlands. The original plan had preserved 4.91 acres.

The revised plan included a minimum 72-foot forested buffer along the western border of the property between the proposed community and the existing Saddle Ridge subdivision. Forested buffers of 20 feet were proposed along the northern and eastern boundary lines.

The parcel is located between Love Creek Elementary School and the Saddle Ridge and Four Seasons at Belle Terre communities, Delaware State Police Troop 7 and across from Beacon Middle School.

Access to the property would be a connection to the Love Creek school entrance intersection, which includes a traffic signal along Route 24.

County council decisions can be appealed to Chancery Court.



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