Immanuel Shelter Weighs Options After Judge Reverses Special Use - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Immanuel Shelter Weighs Options After Judge Reverses Special Use Exception

Posted: Apr 02, 2018 4:46 PM Updated:

LEWES, Del.- After a Superior Court judge reversed a Board of Adjustment decision allowing a special use exception for a new homeless shelter in Lewes, the shelter is contemplating an an appeal. 

Immanuel Shelter Board President Janet Idema says at their meeting next week, they'll decide whether to walk away, file an appeal, or switch gears and file for conditional use request instead.

"I have many good years left for a good fight," she tells WBOC. "I'm just not going to give up until we actually have something where we can help people get on their feet."

The new shelter would be in an old church on Route Nine, just east of Beaver Dam Road and be a transitional housing shelter, Idema says, with residents only staying for three months at a time and be required to seek work while living there. Idema says they've had recent success stories from their Code Purple shelter, with one resident now living on their own and working. Idema says Immanuel Shelter wants to expand that success to Lewes on the new site. 

In his ruling, Judge Richard Stokes said the Board of Adjustment's decision in favor of the shelter was invalid because the shelter would not fit under Sussex County Code's definition of a "tourist home" --one of the arguments for the exception's legality--because the residents would not pay rent.

"As a result, the shelter does not fall into one of the permitted categories," Judge Stokes writes. "Section 115-15 clearly states that uses not specifically listed are prohibited [...] Thus the homeless shelter must be denied a special use exception at this time."

The decision came after nearby residents filed suit against the Board of Adjustment's decision. Court documents state that those against the project feared the shelter would increase panhandling near housing development entrances, as well as reduce property values. Others worried for the homeless' safety as the church sits on a busy road. The suit was filed by individual residents near the proposed site.  The Henlopen Landing HOA Board told WBOC they had no comment on the judge's ruling and were remaining neutral throughout the entire process. 

If the shelter appeals, it must be done within the next thirty days. 






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