Sussex County Council Denies Rezoning for Proposed Shopping Cent - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Council Denies Rezoning for Proposed Shopping Center

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Large crowds were in attendance at the Tuesday vote in Georgetown (Source: Evan Koslof) Large crowds were in attendance at the Tuesday vote in Georgetown (Source: Evan Koslof)
Roadway sign posted by a opponents of the proposed Overbrook Shopping Center. The Sussex County Council on Tuesday, April 12, voted 4-1 against rezoning the property for the purpose of building the shopping center. (Photo: WBOC) Roadway sign posted by a opponents of the proposed Overbrook Shopping Center. The Sussex County Council on Tuesday, April 12, voted 4-1 against rezoning the property for the purpose of building the shopping center. (Photo: WBOC)

LEWES, Del.- The Sussex County Council on Tuesday denied a developer's request to rezone a 114-acre parcel of land near Lewes for the purpose of constructing a large shopping center.

Citing traffic and growth concerns, the council voted 4-1 to deny the rezoning request. Rehoboth LLC had plans to convert the empty plot of land, located on at the intersection of Route 1 and Cave Neck Road just north of Lewes, into the Overbrook Town Center. The proposed shopping center, which would have been Sussex County's largest, had neighbors concerned about its size and magnitude.

Just as with past meetings, council chambers was full with a vocal crowd of neighbors, which cheered as council members denied the project. The crowd also booed and heckled Councilman Rob Arlett, as he voted in support of the project. 

"There was shock," said Sara Kraft, a Milton neighbor. "Happiness, pleasure. Let's go home and drink." 

Kraft, along with her husband Ken, ran the advocacy website against the project. She said that the shopping center would have created various problems, in particular with traffic in the area. 

"It's out of character," she said. It's inappropriate. And it's out of the main-stream of the shopping."   

Due to population growth in the area, the Delaware Department of Transportation was already planning to build an overpass. However, if the shopping center was approved, DelDOT would have been forced to expedite its project. 

Councilman Rob Arlett said he voted in support of the project because it would fit the tourist economy of the area. He also said it would be an "economic driver." 

"We are struggling constantly in this county," he said. "Growth versus not growth... We are a tourist destination. And so we have to accommodate that." 

Arlett pointed out that Route One was a major artery, which made it the perfect place for such growth. 

"If you can't do this on a federal highway," he said. "Then where can we?" 

Sussex County Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the rezoning in a tight 3-2 vote, but agricultural concerns soon added fuel to the fire. Farms border the site, which led the Delaware Department of Agriculture to point out negative side effects that would result from the shopping center, such as water runoff as well as noise and odor complaints. 

Neighbor Rich Holtkamp said that it was emotional to see the council vote in the opposite direction as the commission. 

"We're so gratified by it," he said. "And I just want to compliment all of the people in the local area that have expressed concern with this with their involvement." 

The vote comes approximately 1.5 year after it was first proposed in late-2014. The proposal was temporarily pulled by the developer in October, 2014, because it was "engulfed" in the upcoming political election. 

The applicant will have 60 days to file an appeal to the decision to the Court of Chancery. The developer will also be able to re-submit a smaller proposal for the plot of land. 

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