In a split 2-2 decision, Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended denial of a Carl M. Freeman Companies conditional-use application to build a 70-room hotel and 8,500-square-foot restaurant on a 9-acre parcel on the northwest side of the Route 54 (Lighthouse Road)-Bennett Avenue intersection near Fenwick Island.
At their July 8 meeting, P&Z commissioners were deadlocked with a 2-2 vote because Commissioner Holly Wingate had recused herself.
Commission Chairman Bob Wheatley said with a tie vote, the commission had two options: to make a different motion or forward the application to Sussex County Council as a denial, which the commission opted for.
Making a motion for denial, Commissioner Bruce Mears said the proposed project was not compatible in an area primarily containing residences. “It's too intense for the area,” he said.
Mears said the the parcel is in an environmentally sensitive area containing 4.89 acres of wetlands. He also cited a shortfall of parking for the site, potential noise from a proposed outdoor music and recreation area, and impact on traffic in a congested area.
“This is not driven by the opposition, but that it's a great idea in the wrong location,” Mears said.
“There is not a hotel in the area, and that's a good reason for have one. This is an infill project,” said Wheatley, who voted against denial.
Commissioner Keller Hopkins, who also voted against the motion to recommend denial, said the action is not a healthy direction the commission wants to take.
Mears and Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson voted for denial. “There is already a parking issue there. This is higher density that will create more traffic,” Hoey Stevenson said.
“I think these issues can be addressed [by county council],” Wheatley said.
County council will have the final vote on the application. A public hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 27, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.