County P&Z takes more time to consider Castaways Bethany

There is still no decision from the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission regarding the proposed Castaways Bethany LLC mixed-use project. At their Oct. 11 meeting, Commission Chairman Robert Wheatley did say that a recommendation to the county council would be forthcoming and added that it would “be fair to say we won’t come back until we are ready to act.” He explained that they have to make a recommendation within 45 days from Oct. 5, when the record closed.

After a marathon hours-long meeting Sept. 6, with more than 100 opponents present and hundreds more making their opinions known through letters of opposition, the P&Z deferred action on the proposed development, which would consist of a campground, multi-family duplex residential units and a waterpark — collectively to be known as Castaways Bethany — located off of Cedar Neck Road near Ocean View.

That night, the commissioners decided to leave the record of the public hearing open for receipt of Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) responses and a “letter of no objection” from the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) that they had not yet received from the state agencies. They decided the public would then have 14 days to comment after they announced those documents were in-hand.

By the Sept. 20 meeting, they had received the necessary documents from PLUS and had been told there would be nothing more coming from DelDOT unless/until the project was further along in the site plan process. Also at that meeting, they announced publicly that there would be 14 days for the public to comment, as had been announced at the original Sept. 6 meeting. The record was closed at the end of the business day, Friday, Oct. 5.

On Oct. 11, Commissioner Rodney Smith said it would be “imprudent, irresponsible and impracticable to try to proffer a motion that would not honor the people that took the time to respond to this matter.”

He said the commission was in receipt of several more letters, including one that was 27 pages long. He further explained that each commissioner had received a copy of a DVD made by a resident of the area and had to have time to review that material.

“We have heard in prior public hearings that this commission is sometimes put in the position of possibly making a decision that is not popular,” he said. “But what does not happen is it does not get put in a position of making a decision they believe is not the correct decision to make. We have to honor and review these materials.”

The next scheduled P&Z meeting is Thursday, Oct. 25, and the agenda was not yet posted as of early this week. After the P&Z makes a recommendation to Sussex County Council, the county council members have the final say on the zoning changes needed for the project.