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Sussex Countian
  • Georgetown officials ponder future development, Historic District standards

  • A recent meeting stemming from debate over a proposed hotel has Georgetown officials moving forward with a “common vision” regarding future development.
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  • A recent meeting stemming from debate over a proposed hotel has Georgetown officials moving forward with a “common vision” regarding future development.
    “I don’t want Georgetown to act like the starving man on the street. You waive a poison apple in front of him and he’s going to eat it anyway,” said Town Councilwoman Linda Dennis at a Sept. 3 workshop involving her fellow councilmembers and the Planning Commission. “That’s what I feel our approach to new development is. ‘Let’s just grab for something because I ran on the platform that I was going to bring in business.’”
    The workshop was requested by Dennis, who is strongly opposed to construction of a Microtel Inn on the southeast corner of Old Laurel Road and U.S. Route 113. The proposed location borders the Village of Cinderberry, whose residents, Dennis being one of them, say the 44-foot-tall hotel with a low price point is going to affect their property values.
    The Planning Commission reviewed developer Beacon Hospitality’s conceptual site plan on June 19. There was no action taken at the meeting, as the developer needs to return with a final plan for preliminary site approval, which is granted by the Planning Commission. Final approval is done administratively, through the town’s Planning Department. However, although commissioners had suggestions for improvement of the plan, they agreed it legally meets town zoning and design standards.
    “I think if a project comes before us and it meets all the standards, I don’t know how we have the legal right to turn it down,” said Commissioner Gary Tonge. “Having said that, if there are concerns about some of the projects we’re approving, maybe we should look at our standards. I’m not overjoyed [about the hotel], but based on what I saw, I’d probably have to approve it because they meet all the standards.”
    Councilman Bill West said Georgetown needs commercial growth to bolster residential growth.
    “Look at Middletown. Fifteen years ago, Middletown had nothing,” West said. “Now there’s all these businesses, shopping centers and restaurants and housing development is going crazy up there. That’s what we should do. If we bring businesses here, the people will come.”
    Dennis said she is not opposed to development.
    “What I’m opposed to is unbridled development that isn’t tied to something that meets the community’s needs,” she said. “That’s our challenge as two groups who make these important decisions about the future of our town.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Mayor Mike Wyatt agreed, saying he does not want to throw the town’s doors open, allowing in any business that comes Georgetown’s way.
    “But if we’re going to be business friendly, we need to make sure the Town Council and the Planning Commission are on the same page, and I think basically we are,” Wyatt said.
    Also discussed during the workshop was formulation of a Historic District Study Committee that researches permitted uses, design standards for building materials and the feasibility of expanding the district.
    “We don’t have a strategy to promote and preserve what we define as our Historic District,” Dennis said. “Many places have design standards. They have aesthetic standards. They tell you what the façade should look like.”
    Commissioner Chris Lecates said the town’s Comprehensive Plan states the Historic District should have more specific standards and procedures to make provisions.
    “If it’s in the plan, why don’t we have it?” Lecates asked.
    The Town Council will take nominations and make appointments to the committee at its Sept. 11 regular meeting, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Town Hall. Residents are encouraged to participate. Call (302) 856-7391 for more information.

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