On Feb. 18, Sussex County Planning & Zoning (P&Z) will consider “Conditional Use Permit #2206”. If approved, it will change 48.1 acres of farmland in Ocean View, into a 198-unit, three-story apartment building complex. In an area of only single family homes — there is not another complex like the one being planned within 1 square mile of this proposed development. Three-story structures are completely out of character for this area and will detrimentally affect the character of homes on the peninsula.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught all of us the true meaning of “essential personnel” (including this writer). Certainly, anyone reading this today has a new appreciation for our essential workers, some of whom are financially unable to purchase a home of their own but are entitled to affordable and quality housing. There are a number of properties on Route 26 that are already zoned commercial that can be built upon to provide rental housing.
So why on this earth does the property owner/developer want to place these three-story structures in the middle of a soybean field? Well, for one, because they think they can, and with minimal resistance. If I were a betting man, they will either get their way with P&Z, or have minimal conditions placed on them by the County Council — why? In the developers’ own words: “eventually everyone else will wear down.” (Oct 2, 2015). So let’s test this theory…
The lion’s share of property owners who live here full time, are seniors (some challenged by technology) — the most vulnerable population to contract COVID-19 and they will not attend in person to protest, or even try virtually. Many taxpaying property owners are only here during the summer months and are unaware of this proposal. Our internet connections are poor and cell phone dead zones many, so virtual presentations are infeasible. One needs to look no further than the firms that were hired to push this proposal through — the property owners have only themselves to defend their rights.
Sussex County Planning & Zoning is charged with protecting the rights of property owners of this county, to ensure that any project being proposed is appropriate for the area. Proposal #2206, as written, is inappropriate and out of character for this area. We recognize that the owner has a right to build on their property, but the current property owners have rights, too! And we, the property owners, are the majority!
P&Z, County Council, DNREC, DEDOT — if we were your parents, what would you want for us? If this was next door to your home, your community, your slice of the peninsula, what would you approve for yourselves? We expect nothing different! Do the right thing!
Are you reading this and saying “not your battle/doesn’t affect me” — think again. If #2206 is approved, it will set a precedent for all of Sussex County, and it could be coming to a neighborhood near you soon!
David Bartlett Sr.