LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Three cheers to Sussex County Council

Sussex County Council should be commended for denying the request to rezone the property on the site of the proposed Overbrook Shopping Center from Agricultural/Residential to Commercial/Residential. Council refused to be distracted by the site plan for an 870,000-square-foot shopping center, and instead, properly voted (on Tuesday) that rezoning these particular 114.5-plus acres from AR-1 to CR-1 is inappropriate and incompatible with the County Code and Comprehensive Plan.

A discussion of a proposed shopping center here or a proposed residential development there bears no relevance on whether the request for rezoning should be granted. The majority of the council stressed why this point is so important. When we focus on the proposed site plan, we are distracted from the fact that once a property is rezoned, it can be used for any use permitted by the County Code for that zone, not just the proposed use indicated in the site plan that accompanies an application.

In a CR-1 zone, these uses could include any mixture of many of the following permitted uses: automobile or truck sales; indoor amusement places; boat and trailer sales facilities; car washes; hotels; lumber yards; manufactured-home sales lots; tire sales shops; metal shops; garages; restaurants; and all sorts of retail uses, including but not limited to shopping centers.

In refusing to be distracted by the bright and shiny amenities that were offered as a part of the applicant’s plan for the Overbrook Town Center, Council correctly focused on whether the rezoning of the parcel in question from Agricultural/Residential to Commercial/Residential is compatible with surrounding land uses, and concluded that it is not.

CR-1 zoning is not compatible with the parcels to the north and east that are zoned Low Density Area under the Sussex County Comprehensive Plan. CR-1 Zoning is not compatible with the farm on the northern border of the parcel, which has been in the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Program since 1998.

CR-1 zoning is not compatible with the legacy farm that has been in the same family since the 1680s. And, CR-1 zoning certainly is not compatible with the family farm on which has been established a wildlife refuge that serves as a buffer between farmland and the Great Marsh leading to the Delaware Bay.

Commercial development is important to the county and state, but agriculture generates $3.8 billion in revenues and more than 15,000 jobs in Sussex County.

It is because of crucial decisions like the one made today that I am running for County Council. When Mrs. Deaver retires, we must continue her legacy with a person who also believes in comprehensive planning and smart development, and I hope the voters will agree that I am that person.

Leslie W. Ledogar, Esq. (Retired)

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