A few weeks after accusing Sussex County of unlawfully allowing a biogas facility project near Georgetown to proceed, on Thursday environmental group Food and Water Watch announced it has filed an appeal of the county's decision.
In 2018, Sussex County officials approved CleanBay Renewables’ plan to build a the facility in Georgetown, where the company plans to convert chicken litter from Delmarva poultry plants into electricity. The approval required a conditional use permit.
Food and Water Watch asked the Planning and Zoning Commission to declare the permit void, saying CleanBay had not done substantial construction on the site within three years as required. Planning and Zoning staff had previously agreed with that assessment.
CleanBay Renewables argued otherwise, and the commission ultimately sided with them. Food and Water Watch, in a press release announcing its appeal of that decision, saying the commission exceeded its authority by making the decision in the first place, and also acted without proof of “substantially underway” construction as defined in Sussex County Code. They want the Board of Adjustment to reverse the decision and declare CleanBay Renewables' permit null and void.
County spokesman Chip Guy said in an email that the appeal was received and would be reviewed. "Beyond that, the County cannot offer any comment at this time."
At the earlier meeting where the Planning and Zoning Commission made its decision, Chairman Robert Wheatley said, “I’m inclined to give the applicant the benefit of the doubt based on what’s in the letter. We have rather broadly interpreted ‘substantially underway’ over the years and I don’t see a reason to deviate at this point. At least this puts them on notice that they better start doing something.”
Maddy Lauria contributed to this report.
Read more about this debate: