Should Be Rejected
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Thursday's snow postponed what promised to be an explosive Sussex County Planning & Zoning Committee hearing regarding a request by Carl M. Freeman Communities to rezone a large development off Route 54 between Fenwick Island and Selbyville.
Freeman Communities is requesting a rezoning from Agricultural/Residential to Medium Residential/RPC to allow the construction of 2,900 homes instead of the 1,900 permitted by current zoning there.
The county administrator's office said on Friday, Jan. 21, that the Planning & Zoning hearing has been rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, 2000. County Council will hear the request at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4.
Freeman Communities, known better as the developers of the massive Sea Colony and Bear Trap projects in the Bethany Beach and Ocean View areas, is requesting a change of zoning for the 865-acre tract to accomodate the extra 1,000 houses it would like to add to the proposed 1,900 homes, golf course, hotel and stores.
The request has drawn justifiable criticism from local and state officials concerned about the impact the proposed larger development would have on Route 54, which is already overloaded with traffic.
Their concerns have led them to conduct secret meetings to plan a strategy for dealing with the proposal if it is approved by County Council.
The state Senate has introduced six pieces of legislation designed to minimize the impact of developments like Americana Bayside on local schools, roads and emergency personnel.
We love growth, but we believe strongly that County Council should flatly reject this request. Sussex County and the area immediately affected do not need the extra 1,000 homes, and Freeman Communities doesn't need the extra 1,000 homes to build a first-class development.
The request is just another greedy attempt by Freeman Communities to develop as much of southeastern Sussex County as possible without regard for its impact on the area's quality of life and its fragile environment.
Our county's quality of life is being rezoned into submission. As it is now, you can no longer be sure that the cornfields you bought next to for the peace and quiet won't soon be a development the size of Sussex County's largest towns or a chicken waste plant or an asphalt plant.
We know County Council is working on a comprehensive land use plan with the state, and when that is in place, we hope council will stick to it so home owners will have the assurances they deserve that their neighborhood's character will remain intact for as long as they own their home.
You can voice your opinion on the American Bayside request or rezoning in general on the Sussex County Online Forum and the Sussex County Online Poll using the links below.
In response to Carl M. Freeman Communities' attempt to build a new development near Fenwick Island that would be the size of Seaford, the Delaware Senate has introduced six bills to try to control the size of future developments in the state.
Unfortunately, the bills miss the mark because the language allows the counties and the state to restrict the size of developments by requiring developers to defray the costs of the expected impact of those developments -- and here's our problem with these bills -- even on properties that are already properly zoned for more homes.
In other words, the developers would be expected to pay for the poor planning of the counties and the state. We don't support rezonings, but we do support property owners' rights to develop a property to the fullest under their properties' existing zoning laws.
The bills would require developers of 500-plus home projects to defray the costs of their impact, while one would require developers of 200-plus home developments to obtain a permit from the Secretary of DNREC.
Following are links to the text of each of the bills introduced in response to the 2,900-home Americana Bayside development proposed by Freeman Communities:
Snow has also postponed Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper's last State of the State address today until Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. in House Chambers.
Gov. Carper's second term as governor expires this year and he is seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Bill Roth.
When he does deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 25 (weather permitting), Gov. Carper is expected to reflect on his administration's accomplisments and look at where the state has come from in the past 100 years as well as where it is headed in the next 100 years.
Gov. Carper is also expected to focus on passing education accountability measures, improvements to health care and crime prevention, switching control of the state's water utilities from DNREC to the Public Service Commission, and technology, particularly technology's use in government servics.
In line with that, Gov. Carper's State of the State address will be broadcast live, in audio and video, over the Internet on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m.
The governor's office said Thursday, Jan. 20, that interested Internet users will be able to go to the state's home page and find a link to the live broadcast on Tuesday, Jan. 25.
During the address, Gov. Carper will focus on what he calls "e-government", or providing government services on the Internet.
Included in this e-government initiative would be the ability of residents to obtain various permits 24 hours a day online, real-time state-wide crime reporting statistics for state, county and local police.
You can voice your opinion on Sussex County issues in the Sussex County Online Forum or cast your vote on various Sussex County issues on our online poll. Just follow the links below to make your voice heard and your vote count:
For information on the Delaware General Assembly, such as House and Senate agendas and the status of current bills, visit the GA web site.
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