Long-standing family-run businesses on just under 4 acres off Robinsonville Road near Lewes must be approved by all three levels of Sussex County government.
Joseph and Patricia Prettyman have filed a conditional-use application for a lawnmower and small-engine repair shop, and three self-storage buildings on their family farm. Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission will make a recommendation on the application to Sussex County Council.
In addition, the Prettymans must get a special-use exception from Sussex County Board of Adjustment for an existing horse-boarding and riding lessons operation.
During the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission July 11 public hearing, Mark Davidson, a land planner with Penonni Associates in Milton who is representing the applicants, said no new buildings will be built. He said the farm, which was 200 acres, dates back to the late 1800s and still has several historic buildings on site, including a circa 1890s milk house.
He said an application was filed because the Prettymans were issued a violation notice for operating a commercial business in AR-1, agricultural-residential, zoning.
Commissioner Keller Hopkins asked why the uses on the property were not grandfathered.
Sussex County Director of Planning and Zoning Janelle Cornwell said documentation is still required if the uses existed before zoning was created.
Davidson said the size of the farm was reduced when acreage was sold to the adjacent Estates of Bridle Ridge subdivision where horse stalls and pastures are permitted.
Davidson said the land was farmed until the 1980s when the use was changed to what it is today. He said the repair shop has been in operation five years with a customer base of 500 people.
The property also has 16 self-storage units, a storage barn and room for outdoor storage of boats, trailers and campers.
The proposed hours of operation for the repair shop are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the hours for the storage units would be from dawn to dusk.
Two nearby residents expressed concern with storage and removal of fluids from the repair shop and asked what restrictions were in place for outdoor storage.
Davidson said the shop follows all state standards for proper storage and disposal of fluids.
In addition, he said, outdoor storage occurs between two buildings and is shielded from neighboring properties.
Commission Chairman Bob Wheatley said conditions such as prohibiting storage of inoperable vehicles and construction of a privacy fence could be placed on the application.
At its July 18 meeting, the planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the application. Sussex County Council has scheduled a hearing for 1 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 13, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.