Sussex Co. denies Lewes 7/11, locals cautiously optimistic
SUSSEX CO., Del. – Some Sussex County residents are breathing a sigh of relief after the County Council voted down a controversial proposal that they say would have added a lot of traffic to the area.
“I’m very proud of the councilmen. All of them. They did their job. They listened to the public,” says Judy Kane, a Sussex County resident.
On Tuesday, many Sussex County residents heard the answer they’d been fighting for: a 4 to 1 vote against a proposed 7/11 gas station in Lewes.
“We are very very pleased with the council’s decision in recognizing what an adverse impact and what an inappropriate use it was for this particular site,” says Curt Smith, a Sussex County resident.
It wasn’t the first time that the council was deciding on a conditional use for the property at the corner of John J. Williams Highway and Angola Road.
“What I do know is that this was an inappropriate use of the conditional use and certainly if anyone looks at that corner they would just realize this was not the place to put a 24/7, 365 operation,” says Kane.
It’s an area that locals say is already congested, year round. “I counted 40 cars lined up to get out onto 24. And I know things have changed and there’s more people around but I think this would’ve created a much bigger problem,” says Jack Noel, a Sussex County resident.
Another topic of concern: the impact a gas station may have on the area’s drinking water. “Underground storage tanks do not become conditional. Once they are in, they are in and they are very hard to deal with if they become a problem,” says Smith.
Locals aren’t opposed to the area being developed but their visions are very different compared to this recent idea. “Something that people would drive into and stay for a while like a doctors office or a physical therapy place. That would be great for the population around here,” says Noel.
As Sussex County continues to grow, community members hope this latest outcome inspires others to get involved and voice their concerns. “I think it’s important that the public know when things like this happen so they can really get together and get their information together and change a situation that might turn out bad,” says Noel.
Residents tell 47 ABC they’ll continue to watch for proposals that may impact John J. Williams Highway. That road is considered a major East-West connector from Route 1 to Millsboro. It’s a two lane road and is set to be widened but only up until the Love Creek Bridge.
Locals also tell 47 ABC they believe controversial proposals, like this one, could be avoided in the future with a few small tweaks. Some suggest the county’s “planning and zoning” split so that one committee is in charge of planning and the other is in charge of zoning.