Oak Landing: P & Z record closed to additional public testimony

MILLSBORO – For residents hoping to comment on the proposed Oak Landing residential development before the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission this Thursday night, the record for additional public testimony is closed.

State Rep. Ruth Briggs King on Monday asked the commission to defer consideration of Oak Landing – a proposed single-family lot development on Oak Orchard Road – until next month.

In a letter to Bob Wheatley, planning and zoning chairman, Rep. Briggs King shared some of the drainage and transportation concerns expressed by Oak Orchard area residents at a public meeting she co-hosted with state Sen. Gerald Hocker last week.

“Many constituents attended a regular drainage and community update held on Aug. 15, 2018 and expressed concern regarding a lack of notice or lack of knowledge about the proposal until after the July 26, 2018 meeting,” Rep. Briggs King stated in her letter. “Additionally, they had many questions about the planning and zoning process as well as the impact from the development upon their small community. My meeting was not the venue for such discussion, consequently, I offered to advise you (Mr. Wheatley) of their concern as well as encourage their attendance or direct correspondence with the planning and zoning commission.”

However, the record is officially closed, and additional public testimony cannot be taken.

“The situation with that is, and I think I understand confusion, the public hearing is over. We already had the public hearing,” said Mr. Wheatley. “We did leave the record open, but only to receive a letter that one of the people during the hearing had made reference to, and we didn’t have it. So, we left the hearing open to receive that letter. But we can’t take any more public testimony.”

Mr. Wheatley does not expect the commission will act on the proposal at its Aug. 23 meeting.

“We’re not going to take any action, just to close the record,” he said. “We’ll be voting on it at a later time. What will happen Thursday night is we will explain to anybody that is there what the situation is and why we’re not able to let them testify.”

Mr. Wheatley said the commission may review the notice requirements. “We get this a lot. People say, “Well I didn’t know about it.’ We have specific rules that we have to follow to get it out there,” said Mr. Wheatley.

At present, notice includes signage on every piece of property being addressed by the commission.

In addition, notification letters are sent to all residences within 200 feet. “That is not required but that is just something that we do, to make sure that the people that are most likely to be most affected at least have some kind of special notification,” said Mr. Wheatley. “But, you know, you’re sending the letter to the address that is on tax bill.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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