County denies Moose lodge

Sussex County Council decided the County Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission’s conditions weren’t enough to make a Loyal Order of Moose lodge fit next to a chicken house, and voted unanimously to deny the application on May 10.

The commission had recommended the lodge for approval last month, with various conditions, including limited hours and outside activity, and a 6-foot solid vinyl fence between the proposed site and neighbor Alyssa Ziff’s property.

P&Z Director Lawrence Lank presented that list, along with a list possible reasons for denial – out of character with surrounding agricultural uses, noise and lights likely to disturb Ziff’s chickens, too much traffic on narrow Rickards Road (south of Millville) and an associated negative impact on adjacent properties, among others.

More than one council member applauded the Loyal Order of Moose as an organization, and recognized their community involvement, but in the end, as Council Member Dale Dukes put it, the problem was “location, location, location.”

Ziff maintained complaints about odors from her farming operations would inevitably come, applicants’ protests to the contrary, and council agreed.

In other business, council reopened the residential development in commercial zoning districts debate, with Land Use Planner Rick Kautz suggesting a new commercial-residential (CR-1) zone.

Property owners would retain grandfathered rights to develop high-density residential (sewer availability, etc. permitting) on commercial land, but according to Kautz, the old commercial C-1 would henceforth be a “closed district.”

No more zoning changes could create C-1. The new CR-1 would afford all the rights of the old C-1 — but no by-right residential.

Kautz suggested medium-density (four units per acre) could be requested through a conditional use application. He also asked for front yard setbacks in those CR-1 districts to increase to 60 feet, along highways and arterial roads.

Council will consider the draft ordinance in the coming weeks.

Council members also awarded grant requests to a pair of local organizations — Odyssey of the Mind (OM) boosters for the Indian River School District and Friends of the South Coastal Library (FOSCL).

Council Member Vance Phillips gave $750 to the OM boosters, with another $125 from each of his four colleagues. Phillips and Council Member George Cole each gave $250 to the FOSCL, to support the upcoming Beach and Bay Cottage Tour.