Road could offer short bypass to Route 1Planning commission unanimously recommends approval
Georgetown — A new road parallel to Route 1 could be in the works if Sussex County Council approves a zoning change for a property adjacent to Beebe Medical Center's Tunnel Cancer Center.
Herola Family LLC and Artisan's Bank have asked the county to rezone more than 25 acres of vacant land between Walmart and the Beebe campus from agricultural to commercial. The landowners plan to develop the land into a commercial retail area, said lawyer James Fuqua Jr. The planning and zoning commission voted unanimously Aug. 22 to recommend approval. At its Aug. 20 meeting, county council deferred any decision on the rezoning until county planners had an opportunity to review the application and make a recommendation.
Councilman George Cole was vehement in his request that a road be included in the plan to connect Route 24 about a half mile to Old Landing Road near Airport Road.
“I want you to show me sufficient assurances that the subsequent development of this subject land would include that local network,” he said. “I've lived here a long time and of all the infrastructure problems we have in Sussex County, in this area it is traffic. We have missed the boat so many times in the past with the Route 1 corridor, with access roads and service roads and all this other stuff. I want to see some assurances.”
A portion of the road is already built, but has been unusable for the last several years because it dead ends in a field. While the state will maintain the road when complete, state officials have stated the rest of the road must be constructed by the developers of the land.
Fuqua said that while council cannot add on conditions, as they could with a conditional-use application, county council and the planning commission have the authority to deny any request that does not include the through road. He added that the road is already included in the approved plans for the Beebe property and the development along Old Landing Road to the south.
That was not enough for Cole.
“I may not be here [when the plan is before council] and the rest of us might not be here,” he said. “This can all get interpreted differently.
“I've seen so many missed opportunities. There's nothing wrong with this application. I'd just like to see something.”
Fuqua agreed to include a letter with the application stating that land will be donated and easements will be provided for the construction of the new road.
There was no opposition to the application during the public hearing Aug. 20; Delaware Eye Institute and Rehoboth Mall Limited Partnership each submitted letters of support for the rezoning. The state's PLUS review had no objections to the zoning change.
County council will not meet again until Tuesday, Sept. 10. To view upcoming agendas, go to www.sussexcountyde.gov.