Sussex County Delaware

Council Hears Plans
for The Peninsula
Sussex County Council ...

Some Criticism of
1,404-Unit RPC

SC Online Content Editor

Sussex County Council heard from a developer hoping to build a 1,400-home, gated community between Long Neck and Oak Orchard in a three-hour hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2002.

Larry Goldstein, representing Ribera-Odyssey Ventures L.L.C., told the council The Peninsula, proposed for 786 acres at the end of Bay Farm Road, will be "a destination resort," comparing it with similar resorts in Hilton Head, S.C.

In addition to about 700 single-family homes, 350 townhomes and 350 condominiums, plans for The Peninsula call for an 18-hole private, championship golf course, a recreation center, a small retail center, a 4-acre lake with a swimming beach, and a tennis facility with stadium seats.

Even those in the audience who appeared in opposition to the development admitted its plans are impressive. Herring Creek activist Til Purnell said although she opposes the plan " in its present state," she said "there is nothing inherently wrong with the plan. I think the plan is rather attractive."

But Purnell said she worries that in the process of improving roads to accommodate the high-end development and another planned for the same area, some of the long-time residents' more modest homes would suffer. "We happen to be little grubby people in little grubby houses, but we like them," Purnell said.

Purnell said she was glad to hear there are no plans for a marina on the site.

In 1988, Townsend's Inc. purchased the property and had received approval to build 1,143 homes, a golf course, a recreation center, 40,000 square feet of retail space, the same amount of office space, and a 350-slip marina with 15,000 square feet of additional retail space.

In addition, 24 acres were set aside for an office complex. The project stalled, however, due to difficulties getting the necessary permits for the marina, and Townsend's sold the land. It reverted back to agricultural zoning and has been farmed since.

Goldstein's representatives said the amount of nutrients reaching the bay from the site will lessen from its current use once The Peninsula is built, through the use of "best management practices" to deal with stormwater.

Still, council member George Cole said he felt plans to build 350 homes a year are "kind of excessive," particularly in a rural area.

"Some entire cities don't get that kind of growth," Cole said, adding he doesn't believe the state and the county can keep up with the infrastructure requirements of such growth.

Self-imposed conditions the developer has agreed to include funding for road improvements, providing shuttle service within the development and to area shopping and attractions, and funding for the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company.

The county council will await a recommendation from the county Planning and Zoning Commission before it votes on The Peninsula's rezoning request.

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