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GEORGETOWN -- Two developments that will bring 2,100 homes to the Oak Orchard area got the thumbs-up signal from Sussex County Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002.
County Council approved the rezonings for more than 1,000 acres off Bay Farm Road (Road 299) between Long Neck and Oak Orchard.
The first project to be approved was The Bay Farm, a 303-acre project originally slated for 780 homes, about half of which will be age-restricted. The council voted to reduce The Bay Farm to 660 homes, as recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The second project, The Peninsula, will include about 1,400 homes. The planning commission had recommended reducing it to 1,200. It will be a gated community, with a variety of housing types and a golf course.
Both include commercial areas -- 10,000 square feet for The Bay Farm and 15,000 square feet for The Peninsula.
Both developers -- A.A.S.C.D Ventures for The Bay Farm and Ribera-Odyssey Ventures for The Peninsula -- have agreed to fund improvements to the surrounding roads, to the tune of about $25 million.
Council member Vance Phillips said the county "might as well embrace developments that are going to minimize the impact on the taxpayer."
But council member George Cole, whose district includes the sites of both projects, said the impact of the improvements on traffic will be minimal. Already on Route 24, "you cannot get out of your community without your life being in peril," Cole said. "The gridlock on Route 24 will not be improved by these minor improvements."
Phillips said increasing development will not add to traffic problems. He said "5.5 million tourists -- that's what's putting a strain on our infrastructure. This development is a drop in the bucket. It's really the tourists that cause the gridlock."
Some council members lauded the projects as examples of good, responsible planning. But Cole, whose district the projects will be built in, said the two projects are "an example of excessive growth in a rural area" and in that way they are no different from other large communities in the area begun 20 years ago. "They will have a negative effect on the quality of life for existing residents," Cole said.
"Sussex County Council is out of touch with what the people want," Cole said.
Phillips countered that his re-election indicates that voters in his district, which includes the southernmost portion of the county from Fenwick Island to Delmar, "obviously appreciate economic growth.+
Phillips bested opponent Peg Baunchalk in all but one district -- the one including Fenwick Island and South Bethany -- in the recent election. Cole, however, was having none of that argument. "It's similar to my election, where you have a weak candidate. That's how you win."In Other Business ...
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