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January 10, 1997     Cape Gazette
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January 10, 1997
 

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10 - CAPE GAZETFE, Friday, January 10 - January 16, 1997 Roadhouse/Outlets intersection tops Rt. I working group agenda By Michael Short The Rt. 1 working group will meet on Thursday, Jan. 16 at the County Bank Building on Rt. 1 near the main entrance to Rehoboth Beach. The agenda will include a discussion of proposed plans to change the Roadhouse Intersection, considered one of the most dangerous intersections in the area. Charter Oak Partners, the owners of the Rehoboth Outlets, which includes the outlet center directly across the road from the Roadhouse, have proposed making several changes to the intersection. Charter Oak has said it is willing to pay for those changes. The Rt. 1 working group will consider those proposed plans and will listen to a representative from Charter Oak Partners, when the group meets on Jan. 16. The proposed changes, which are not yet definite, include two left turn lanes into the center on Rt. 1 northbound. Those left turn lanes would be located at the Roadhouse In- tersection, which would be modified, and the existing left turn lane from Rt. 1 north- bound would be eliminated. That Roadhouse Intersection between Midway Shopping Center and the Re- hoboth Outlets would be changed to be- come a more standard intersection. Besides removing the existing left turn lane from Rt. 1 northbound, the turn from southbound Rt. 1 into Colonial East would be eliminat- ed. A major goal of the proposals is to pre- vent traffic turning into Rehoboth Outlets from backing up on to Rt. 1 by creating longer left turn lanes into the outlet mall. The left turn southbound into Colonial East, which would be eliminated, has been a somewhat touchy subject. Steve Class of Colonial East said that many of the residents in that park are not happy with the suggestion and he notes that the existing left turn lane into the area was part of an agreement previously reached with Delaware's Department of Transporta- tion (DelDOT). "We just feel there is a better way," Class said. "They feel it will be a tremendously dangerous situation." Class said that most of the residents he spoke with are unhappy and are worried about traffic safety. But a few do support the proposals, he said. Ray Pusey, a recently retired DelDOT employee said the state has a chance to im- prove a hazardous area and should make sure it reviews any and all options before making any definite decisions on how to improve the area. DelDOT officials say no definite deci- sions have been made, but they also say they would like to have something in place before next summer so they do not have to go through another summer with nothing being done to improve the safety of the in- tersection. There are other issues on the agenda for the Jan. 16 meeting and the public is wel- come to attend the 7 p.m. meeting. Eli Cooper has been studying Rt. 1 and how safety of the area can be improved. That study is designed to create an "ultimate so- lution" to the traffic problems of the road- way. Cooper will be giving an update on the status of his study at the meeting. Coop- er, who serves as assistant director of trans- portation services development in Dei- DOT's planning section, is still gathering data. The idea for that study grew out of dis- cussions of access roads and other ways to improve the roadway, which has rapidly be- come a favorite topic of discussion among Sussex residents. "It's going to be quite an undertaking," Cooper said in an October interview. "We would like for this process to be an interac- tive one with this committee...We are blessed that there's a lot of formal structure already in place. It's a real opportunity for the department as well as the community to shape the plan together." New legislator urges capping rainy day fund to pay sewer costs By Michael Short the Rainy Day Fund to the Waste- grants of the excess dollars." dollars, Schroeder estimated, such projects. "We have this huge Shirley Price (D-Millville) is al- ready making legislative waves. The newly elected Price has proposed capping Delaware's "Rainy Day Fund" and using the extra money to help fund water and sewer infrastructure through- out the state. That's been a major Sussex issue of the last few years and Price has already gathered the support of Sen. Bob Voshell (D- Milford), Rep. George Bunting (D-Bethany Beach) and Rep. John Schroeder (D-Lewes). All three have agreed to be cosponsors of the legislation, but Price is the primary sponsor. Price couldn't be reached Thursday afternoon, but Schroed- er said the legislation could poten- tially help residents of the West Rehoboth Sewer District. The ex- cess money would be moved from water Advisory Council where it could be used for grants or loans. Schroeder said that West Re- hoboth should have the highest priority to receive grants or loans because the cost of the sewer dis- trict and the cost to the residents is the highest. But he also said that the legislation isn't expected to generate much money initially. In years to come, he expects the payoff to be substantial. "I proposed to cap the Rainy Day Fund at $100 million," Price said in a prepared statement. "I propose that excess funds be used to help our communities to exist and grow safely by providing a healthy way to dispose of waste, while protecting the environment and help with the financing of wa- ter systems. Help would come in the form of low interest loans and "Now is the time for Delaware to come to the aide of Delaware- ans; to protect their health and safety," she continued. "We must address this problem now as it is one that will not go away. This problem affects not only the pock- etbooks and health of our citizens, but also our precious natural re- sources--the fragile environment that our visitors and our citizens enjoy--the environment that is costly to restore, when restoration is possible." Here's the way the system will work. Delaware's Rainy Day Fund is a line item in every year's budget. Money is set aside yearly for the fund, a legislative effort that was designed to help put Delaware on fiscally sound ground. That fund has now grown to between $90 and 100 million When it reaches $100 million, it would be capped and the addition- al money moved to the Rainy Day Fund. The fund itself was set up to assist with a state economic prob- lem and it has a number of safe- guards to keep legislators from eyeing it and spending it too easi- ly. Schroeder said it could be used, for example, in case the state couldn't finish the budget because the economy went bad and revenues fell sharply. "It is a true Rainy Day Fund." The rain never came and the fund was never used. But Schroeder thinks the situation is serious enough to use the Rainy Day Fund. He notes that one study shows $500 million in water and sewer needs in Delaware in the next 15 years. He said there is no federal grant funding anymore for $500 million nut," Schroeder said. While addressing those needs, Schroeder, a banking executive, was very quick to add that main- taining $100 million in the Rainy Day Fund should be enough to help deal with emergencies which might arise. The fund would still be enough to deal with any "Rainy Days" and any potential legislation must be crafted very carefully to satisfy investment bankers, Wall Street and other assorted financial types that Delaware reminds on a very secure financial footing, he said. While supporting this bill, Schroeder hasn't given up on an- other idea to fund sewer projects. He would like to see some money raised by slot machines dedicated to sewer and water infrastructure and expects to pursue that issue. Edgehill rezoning request draws support and concerns at hearing By Dennis Forney construction on the property was consid- ground floor retail because that's what our which he said would help the whole neigh- Preston Dyer pointed to language in the Lewes Long Range Plan to support his case for a rezoning of the Edgehill drugstore property in Lewes. "A provision in the plan says that the town may have to be willing to allow ex- pansion of some non-conforming commer- cial uses if its residents are to be able to continue to enjoy services in town without having to go out to Rt. 1 in the future. That's what we're proposing here. My client [Edgehill Drugs Inc.] needs to ex- pand and upgrade its Savannah Road store to keep up with the times and serve its cus- tomers." Dyer made his case during a pub- lic hearing held Tuesday, Jan. 7. The hear- ing focused on Edgehill's request to rezone its 1.27 acres where its store is located from Community Facilities District to C-1 com- mercial. The rezoning request drew support from a number of neighbors, including Beebe Medical Center. The small crowd gathered for the hearing - including 10 residents of town - however, also expressed concern about potential traffic and parking prob- lems. Lewes Councilman Tony Pratt said that traffic and parking concerns would best be considered when the site plan for proposed ered. At the urging of Lewes resident Mike Tyler, Lewes Council members agreed to have Lewes Planning Commission consider the project if the rezoning is approved and before construction would begin. "I agree that the Planning Commission should have the opportunity to review this project and make recommendations," said Councilman Jim Ford. "If this is right for the town," said Tyler, "let's do it right. Let's consider the cumu- lative impact of projects like these and give the developers the right path to follow." If the rezoning is approved, Edgehill would be able to raze its current 6,800 square foot drug store and build a new 36,000 square foot facility which would in- clude a 12,000 square foot street level drug store and a number of doctors offices in what it is calling the Lewes Medical Arts Building. Blake Thompson, president of EdgehilI Drugs, said Edgehill would sign an agree- ment with Lewes limiting all commercial development on the property, other than of- rices, to the 12,000 square foot drug store. "What we're proposing is certainly a better looking building than what's there and no doubt will serve the community for many years to come. We're willing to limit to business is." Vote coming Monday The rezoning request is scheduled to be considered at the Monday, Jan. 13 meeting of Lewes Council. If approved, the pro- posed new building would still need plan- ning commission review and building in- spector approval before it could go forward. The building height was increased above the legal commercial limit to satisfy con- cerns raised by the city's Commercial Ar- chitecture Review Commission and would also require a variance from the Board of Adjustment to go forward. Councilman Jim Ford said he didn't feel the plans needed another review by the Commercial Architecture Review Commis- sion since they haven't changed since that group gave its approval. Beebe Medical Center President Jeff Fried presented a letter at the hearing in support of the rezoning. He said several meetings and studies have led Beebe Med- ical Center to believe that the rezoning and proposed project would not impact traffic patterns at Beebe Medical Center. He added that Edgehill has offered to dedicate some of the parking spaces in a two-decked parking area for Beebe Medical Center borhood. He said he felt the proposed facil- ity would benefit patients by being so close to Beebe Medical Center and that it would also aid in Beebe's recruitment efforts for new physicians. "Anything that makes it more attractive for physicians to consider relocating to Lewes should be considered a benefit to the community as well as Beebe Medical Center," wrote Fried. This is an artist's rendering of the Lewes Medical Arts Building. The top drawing shows the building as it would face Beebe Medical Center. The bottom shows the Savannah Road face of the building.