Sussex County Board Approves Controversial Assisted Living Facil - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Sussex County Board Approves Controversial Assisted Living Facility

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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - The Sussex County Board of Adjustment unanimously approved the Truitt Homestead project at their meeting Monday night, paving the way for 90 single family homes and a three-story assisted living facility.

The Truitt Homestead will be on Shuttle Road off Route 1, across from the DART Park & Ride. While voting, Board of Adjustment members said the facility was in line with others in the area, and DelDOT regulations will manage any traffic impact. Lance Billingsley lives near the project and says that's simply not the case.

"These are elderly people. There's a need for emergency care," he tells WBOC. "If there are traffic standups on coastal highway, they're going to have to send helicopters in there. Nobody's prepared for that. There's no plan for that."

Billingsley was one of many neighbors petitioning the board to re-open the period for public comment. They say they weren't properly notified about the project's December 19th public hearing, and the hearing's proximity to the holidays affected attendance.

"If they had opened this up to testimony and we had presented a case, then they were in a position to decide one side, not the other," he says. "That's their job. I understand that. But by not taking both sides of the story ,with that background, it clearly demonstrates that these people are not interested in what is the public good. At all." 

Before Monday night's meeting, neighbors held up signs that said "Vote NO Truitt Homestead" and comments like "If you can't re-open, vote no." Instead, the board proceeded to vote in favor. Billingsley says he found the decision baffling.

"We are talking about a mini hospital. I sit on the board of assisted living home, and yet I don't have any opportunity to let them be aware of my expertise," he says. "Expertise that they could use and benefit from. But they didn't want to."

In a document provided to WBOC by the Truitts' attorney Jim Fuqua, the developers say they went through the proper processes to notify the public about the hearing. They also say the area is in need of an assisted living facility, and the facility's location near the DART Park & Ride make it convenient for seniors who want to travel without driving. They also say traffic will be minimal, and every home in the neighboring communities will have at least one single family home and a street buffering the assisted living facility, in addition to 20 feet of trees and landscaping. 

"The Truitts will continue to own the land in the Truitt Homestead," the document states, "And have a long term lease with many protections to ensure that the developer and operator of the assisted living facility build and maintain an upscale facility that is a good neighbor to the surrounding 90 homes as well as other nearby communities."

Billingsley says they plan on appealing the board's decision as soon as possible.

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