Sussex P&Z closes gate on Showfield request

Commissioners vote 3-2 to support original plan for access through community
June 23, 2023

An amendment to the Showfield subdivision plan to include gated access at Monroe Avenue Extended for only bicycles and pedestrians has been rejected by the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission. Showfield is outside Lewes city limits.

During its June 22 meeting, commissioners voted 3-2 to deny a request from the Showfield Homeowners Association.

Showfield residents also would’ve had use of the gate using a coded system.

The original Showfield site plan was approved with interconnectivity from the development to Monroe Avenue Extended and Freeman Highway.

Making the motion for denial, Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson said the commission has authority over roads within subdivisions in unincorporated areas to ensure safe vehicular movement.

“There is no legitimate reason to change the approval. There is no compelling reason in the public record,” she said. “Interconnectivity is mandated by code, and not having alternatives routes for access would be inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.”

Voting against the motion were Commissioners Keller Hopkins and Bruce Mears. Hopkins said through traffic will increase in the development as motorists look for ways to get off Freeman Highway. “There are small streets and this creates a safety matter,” he said.

It was Hopkins’ final planning & zoning commission. He is stepping down after serving for seven years. It was also Hoey Stevenson's final meeting after serving for six years.

Commission Chair Bob Wheatley and Commissioners Hoey Stevenson and Holly Wingate voted against Showfield’s request.

During a May 25 public hearing, nearly 200 Showfield residents filled the chambers to support the request for a gate. Speaking for the residents, Rick Babiarz, homeowners association president, presented a petition signed by 151 lot owners of the 166 lots in the community.

“We have a strong desire to maintain our residential character and not become a secondary road from Kings or Freeman highways,” he said. “We want a safe environment for pedestrians, children and bicyclists.”

Plans for the Monroe Avenue-Freeman Highway intersection include a traffic signal paid for by the developer of Olde Town at Lewes, which is being constructed in the farm field adjacent to Showfield.

A sidewalk is planned from Showfield to connect to Monroe Avenue Extended and the Junction & Breakwater Trail.

Planning & zoning commission decisions can be appealed to Sussex County Council.



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