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December 15, 2017     Cape Gazette
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By Ron MacArthur ronm@capegazette.com Sussex County's Board of Ad- justment approved a special-use exception for a senior living facility near the intersection of Plantation and Cedar Grove roads between Lewes and Re- hoboth Beach. The project was approved the same night it was presented to the board. AtitsDec.11meeting,theboard voted 4-0 to approve an applica- tion filed by J.G. Townsend Jr. & Co. and Plantation Partners LLC for a 160,000-square-foot, 144- unit facility on a 10-acre parcel. David Hutt, the developer's attorney, said the presentation was not a site-plan review but a report to the board to show the proposed use would not have a substantial adverse affect on neighboring properties, which is the main criteria the board uses to make a determination. Huttsaidtherewouldbenoim- pact on surrounding properties because the parcel is bordered on two sides by Townsend farm- land, another by Plantation Road and on the north by a parcel owned by HKLS LLC, which sent a letter of support for the application. HKLS has filed an application to rezone a parcel along Cedar Grove Road from AR-1 to B-1 neighborhood busi- ness district. The developer is required to obtain agency and site plan ap- provals. This type of facility is a permitted use on AR-1, agri- cultural-residential, land with approvalofaspecial-useexception.  Hutt said the need for this type of seniors' housing is well docu- mented. He said the county's popu- lation increased more than 9 percent between 2010 and 2015, and one in four residents are 65 years of age or older, with the largest percentage of seniors liv- ing east of Route 113. Plantation Senior Living will provide a continuum of care, said Doug Motley, a principal in the LLC. “Residents will be able to age in place at the facility as their needs change over time,” he said. Three options will be provided: independent and assisted living and memory care. Motley said a market study revealed the demand for senior facilities not only because of an influx of seniors living in and moving to the area but existing senior living facilities have nearly 100 percent occupancy. Hutt used an overlay map to show substantial residential and commercial growth since 1992 in theareaoftheproject.Hesaidthe parcel is in a Sussex County and state-supported growth area. The project will be served by Tidewa- ter Utilities for central water and Sussex County for sewer service.  Access points off Plantation Road and Cedar Grove roads are planned, but the final de- termination for all road work is subject to Delaware Department of Transportation review and ap- proval, Hutt said. Because fewer than 500 vehicle trips per day are expected, Hutt said, DelDOT officials did not require a traffic- impact study. Hutt said the developer hired an archeologist to delineate the borders of an existing Ebenezer Episcopal Methodist Church cemetery at the proposed en- trance off Cedar Grove Road so that no graves will be disturbed. Hutt said the buildings will be three stories high with a 60-foot buffer along Plantation Road, 20 more feet than required by county code. In addition, 99 park- ing spaces are proposed – 25 more spaces than required by county code. He said the facility is expected to hire 50 full-time and 25 part- time employees. 4 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15 - MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2017 NEWS Cape Gazette traffic-impact study. The owners of Colonial East LP have plans to develop seven acres of vacant land in front of the Sussex West and Sussex East manufactured home parks along Route 9 outside Lewes. They are asking county officials to rezone the AR-1, agricultural-residential, parcel to B-1, neighborhood busi- ness district. The conceptual plan calls for Sussex Square to have a series of buildings total- ing about 50,000 square feet. Possible stores would be a cafe, coffee shop, bakery, deli and farmers market, said Steve Class, a principal in Colonial East. “Residents don't want to go out on Route 1,” Class said. “It would be low-scale, neighbor- hood oriented for our residents and neighbors.” The idea took off, he said, when a survey of residents showed support for the proposal. The idea, he said, would be to provide a small shopping area for residents to walk or bicycle to. At its Nov. 16 meeting, the commission voted unanimously to recommend county council approval. Council voted 4-0 to leave the record open until Tuesday, Jan. 30, or until the county receives an evaluation of the developer's traffic-impact study from state transportation officials. In ad- dition, council wanted to allow time for Councilman I.G. Burton, R-Lewes, who was absent, to listen to the audio of the hearing. Debate over a traffic study Traffic engineer D.J. Hughes, of Davis, Bowen and Friedel, said the developer would be required to make road improvements at the Sheffield Drive-Route 9 inter- section as well as along the Route 9 road frontage, the main access to the proposed shopping area. In addition, Hughes said, it's probable the developer will be required to contribute some funding to a proposed traffic sig- nal at the nearby Route 9-Minos Conway intersection. “But it's DelDOT that makes that deci- sion,” he said. Councilman George Cole, R- Ocean View, spent a lot of time at the hearing debating with the applicant on the lack of a traffic study. The developer's attorney, David Hutt, said it would be more than a month before the study is completed. “We base our decisions on information we receive and something is missing. Should we wait for the TIS?” Cole asked. “I have a concern moving forward without it.” “It's rare for you to have a TIS for a change of zone,” said Sussex Planning and Zoning Director Janelle Cornwell. “Typi- cally, a TIS is only required when a site plan is submitted.” She said planning and zoning staff and planning and zoning commission are charged at the final site plan review process to make sure DelDOT requirements are followed by the applicant. Hutt said the developer chose to submit a conceptual site plan in an effort to inform residents of what the project would look like. “The rub here is that you show people what would be there, and it triggers a TIS,” Hutt said. Concerns with more traffic Some residents are concerned about new traffic in the area. “What happens to my qui- et community that they said I should move here for?” asked Sussex West resident Judith Rosen. “That's what was adver- tised – come live at the beach. Now I fear for my life getting out of my driveway.” She said adding more traffic would make matters worse. “Peo- ple ignore stop signs and speed limits, and I live right there on the speedway,” she said, referring to her home near the proposed commercial parcel. John Murray, who lives in the nearby Mills Chase community along Minos Conway Road, said he's concerned with safety. “It can't support additional traffic,” he said. He said over the past two years the road has become a short cut between Route 9 and Route 1 for motorists to get around Five Points. James Labella, who lives in the Red Mill Pond community, said the council needs to look at the bigger picture of development along Route 9 from Sweetbriar Road to Five Points. “How much more can that road absorb?” he asked. “It will be like Route 1 and Route 24. You have to consider what's already in place, which is a lot, and what is coming down the pike, which is a lot. Can the road handle this additional capacity?” RON MACARTHUR PHOTO THE OWNERS OF SUSSEX EAST AND SUSSEX WEST manufactured home parks along Route 9 near Lewes have applied for a zoning change to build a shopping area in front the parks. Center Continued from page 1 ABOUT SUSSEX EAST, SUSSEX WEST • Started in the early 1980s • 350 lots • 96 percent of homes are occupied by those 55 and older • 80 percent of the residents live there year-ååaround • Average age of residents is mid- to upper-70s By Ron MacArthur ronm@capegazette.com After updating county sign regulations almost a year ago, Sussex County officials have been cracking down on viola- tions. So far the county has re- ceived 52 complaints, said Sussex County Director of Planning and Zoning Janelle Cornwell during an update at county council's Dec. 12 meeting. She said planning and zoning inspector Steve Hickman has investigated each complaint and sent out 39 vio- lation letters; six have not been resolved. She said the majority of complaints have been about excessive brightness from elec- tronic messaging signs. Hickman said he does not rely solely on residents' com- plaints but also investigates possible violations as he wit- nesses them. Councilman George Cole, R- Ocean View, asked about sign owners who push the envelope. “We do bring violations to their attention,” Hickman said.  “He knows where the tricky ones are, and he stays on top of them,” Cornwell said. Hickman said it appears the majority of violations can be resolved by meeting with sign or business owners. “None have been taken to court yet,” he said.“We can turn the violation over to the con- stable's office if not corrected,” Cornwell said. At that point, violators are eventually subject to a $100-a- day-fine. Over the past year, Hickman has inspected every billboard and electronic message sign in the county for compli- ance with county regulations.  Cornwell said steps are be- ing taken to be proactive and improve customer service.  • County staff uses new technology to measure the dimensions and height of signs electronically, and for the first time, the county has a light meter to measure light emitted from electronic message signs.  • County staff perform on-site visits with sign companies before and af- ter sign permits are issued.  • Sign permits can be com- pleted online through the county website.  • Hickman is in the process of scanning all sign permits – which go back to 1980 – into the county's computer system.  • Hickman is issuing 80 to 150 invoices each month for sign permit renewals to keep that process up to date. Officials get serious about sign violations Sussex board approves new senior living facility Plantation Road project has 144 units on 10 acres