Sussex County Council denies rezoning request for Overbrook

20 OVERBROOK arlett wilson

Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett, left, listens as council colleague Sam Wilson addresses the rezoning request needed for a proposed Overbrook Town Center. Council denied the request 4-1.

GEORGETOWN – Sussex County Council Tuesday morning rejected a change of zoning that would serve as the land-use foundation for the proposed Overbrook Town Center, denying developer’s request by a 4-1 margin.

TD Rehoboth LLC, of Maryland, had requested a zoning change from AR-1 (agricultural/residential) to CR-1 (commercial/residential).

The 114-acre parcel is located in Broadkill Hundred in the area of Del. 1 and Cave Neck Road.

Opponents of the proposed commercial/shopping center development celebrated when county councilman Samuel Wilson, R-Georgetown, cast his vote for denial. Mr. Wilson’s was the third “no” vote and sealed the deal, following those by council colleagues Joan Deaver, D-Lewes, and George Cole, R-Ocean View.

Councilman Rob Arlett, R-Frankford, voted in favor of the request, which had received recommended approval from the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission by a 3-2 margin.

County council president Michael Vincent, R-Seaford, also voted to deny the rezoning request.

The large commercial proposal had met fierce opposition from nearby property owners and farmers.

Mr. Wilson, a farmer who has long been an outspoken supporter of property rights, spoke about the farming community. He ended the suspense after stating he had a list of pros and cons supporting and opposing the rezoning request.

“Right now I am going to favor denial,” said Mr. Wilson.

“This is a change of zone, a land use. And once you change that zone it is forever. It is what it is,” said Mr. Vincent, who noted that the commercial development could result in the area being “deemed a congested area.”

And that, Mr. Vincent said could impact crop-dusting and aerial spraying of nearby farmland.

“I don’t think it is fair for me to approve something that could have an effect on the farmers around there and what they can do with their property,” Mr. Vincent said.

Ms. Deaver, who represents District 3 where the AR-1 property is located, delivered the first “no” vote after a lengthy presentation.

She said it is “a very large tract of land” and it is “inconsistent” with surrounding zoning and uses of property.

“Our (comprehensive) plan identifies it as a developing area but does not require that this property be rezoned CR-1. There are other options. CR-1 is not appropriate,” said Ms. Deaver. “It doesn’t promote the orderly growth of Sussex County. And it will allow unprecedented rezoning …”

Ms. Deaver added that the land is “an environmentally sensitive area for a reason, because of its proximity to the Great Marsh.”

Mr. Cole said CR-1 rezoning would be too intense for that area.

Mr. Arlett said he “did struggle” with this issue.

“We have got to understand the bigger picture. We have got to move forward as a community to embrace change,” Mr. Arlett said. “I understand that a lot of you are not going to be agreeable with my decision. That’s OK. I think it is very important to understand who we are. Who we are again is a community that is growing.”

Council’s decision can be appealed to Chancery Court.

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