County P&Z denies retail near St. George's church

The Sussex County Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission, at the Jan. 20 P&Z meeting, decided Gregg White’s self-imposed deed restrictions weren’t enough to warrant a change of zone from agricultural-residential (AR) to commercial (C-1).

The parcel in question, 2.8 acres in size, lies northeast of Route 26, diagonally across the street from St. George’s United Methodist Church, in Clarksville.

White represented his own application at the meeting.

His project comprises a 17,600-square foot building with retail and apartments, and a 5,000-square foot building for retail/rentals.

Through deed restrictions, he limited the proposed uses at the site to 1) a furniture retail store, 2) a contractor’s office, 3) a home floor covering showroom/retail, 4) a dry-cleaning storefront, 5) a bicycle/moped retail shop, 6) contractor’s supply retail store, 7) a kitchen cabinet showroom/retail store and, possibly, 8) an ice cream shop.

Whichever of those businesses White ended up placing within the larger building, he also planned to set six apartments on a second floor.

White hoped to use the smaller building, toward the rear of the lot, for contractor storage and/or a rental store.

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) had no problem with the application — at first, they recommended a traffic impact study, but withdrew that requirement after White added the deed restrictions.

The Sussex County Engineering Department opposed the project because, while the parcel is within the Vine’s Creek Planning Area, the county doesn’t have any timeline for providing service.

The Office of State Planning Coordination also expressed reservations, regarding on-site septic and well suitability.

White said he thought the deed restrictions would give the county the protections they were looking for, but it hadn’t turned out that way.

“The deed restrictions protect the state and the neighbors, but it’s illegal for the county to recognize them, because that would place us in a contractual relationship,” he said.

P&Z Director Lawrence Lank expanded on that. He said White had mentioned county council in the deed, which could lead to appearances that some arrangement existed whereby White would receive “spot-zoning.”

The application is on the county council agenda for Feb. 8.