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February 8, 2008     Cape Gazette
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February 8, 2008

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8 -CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, February 8 - Monday, February 11, 2008 Letters Continued from page 7 these facts and knowing that safety, traffic congestion and air quality issues will be generated as a result of the proposed mall, it would be irresponsible for the planning and zoning commission to recommend and the Sussex County Council to approve the requested zoning change. James and Mary Donovan Lewes Townsend hearing riddled with misstatements As we move forward with the process involving the proposed development by LT Associates LLC (Gills Neck Road and Route 9-Freeman/Kings Highway) it is important to recognize and remember some of the misrepresentations and misleading statements presented during the public hearings. And, of equal importance is remembering the statements of DelDOT's representatives and the attitude which they portrayed. While there are myriad interpretive aspects that may ultimately require judicial review, some glaring errors which arose from the public hearings include, without limitation, the following: 1. I believe that the record will reflect that while discussing whether the proposal conforms to Sussex County's comprehen- sive plan, the applicant's attorney informed the Sussex County Council that a density chart in the plan recognized the district as being "medium density." However, a review of the density chart (page 25 of the plan) clearly and unambiguously establish- es that while the recommended density for "Developing Areas" is medium density, the parcel in question is located in the area rec- ognized as the "Environmentally Sensitive Development Area (ESDA)," an area which is relegated to the lesser classification of low-medium density in recognition of the myriad problems encountered in the ESDA. 2. An even more egregious misrepresen- tation are Mr. Tom Ford's [not to be con- fused with Lewes Mayor James Ford] remarks concerning the Department of State Planning's Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) Report: Tom Ford's care- ful phrasing, characterization and spin quoted on page four of your Feb. 1 edition would lead the listener [by inference] to believe that since State Planning doesn't "object" to the proposal, that somehow equates with the department's approval of the proposal and, even better, because State Planning reviewed and approved the coun- ty's plan, the proposed development com- plies with the plan. Sorry, but that wishful thinking is naught more than a sham. Because Tom Ford had used the tactic during the Jan. 10 public hearing bgfore the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission, I questioned the statements/inferences during a Jan. 22 sem- inar hosted by the University of Delaware's Institute for Public Administration. The grossly abusive inaccuracy of Tom Ford's inferences was impeached by no less an authority than Mr. David Edgill, Department of State Planning. Mr. Edgill assured me, and the others present, that the department was aware of such statements and tactics, that such inferences clearly exaggerated and misrepresented both the scope "of the department's review and the purview of PLUS, and that a statement was contained in the PLUS report explaining the limitations of the comments therein. This aspect was addressed in testimony that I prepared on behalf of Plan Delaware; Save Our Coastal Communities and The Sierra Club's Southern Delaware Group, which was presented to Sussex County Council. I would imagine that the explana- tion contained in future PLUS letters might well be revised to avoid and discredit any such future attempts at deception. 3. At the planning commission's hearing, Tom Ford discussed the "relocation" of the performing arts center. At the county coun- cil hearing that was simply cited as being removed from "this" [Townsend Square] proposal. And to where will that and the offices and residential units be relocated...across the street at Clay Road and Freeman Highway? And, what of those impacts; when will they be considered and addressed? 4. In an attempt to justify creating a regional shopping center (500,000+ square feet) in an area where the plan says com- mercial development should be limited to neighborhood shopping (75,000-square- foot maximum as defined by Sussex County Code), Tom Ford claimed that because Coastal Sussex County is a beach area, and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is located here, and a state park is located here, that the area is already "regionalized." However, when discussing a small geo- graphical area in comparison to a larger geographical mass anything becomes regionalized because it is part of a larger region [e.g. Delaware is part of a "region" known as the East Coast]. So, is this to say that Tom Ford's logic is that because we are regionalized the charm of our small towns should be destroyed, our public safety should be compromised and our quality of life marginalized...for what? Tom Ford answers that himself where he is quoted in your article discussing the income this proposal would provide to the county. The singular impacts of the Governors, Senators and Townsend Square Center are bad enough. The cumulative impacts are outrageous. I submit that this is not a question about property rights, takings or "need," it is sim- ply about the highest and best use...maxi- mization to satisfy "greed.' .... As to DelDOT...any response to DelDOT's actions and responses to date must be addressed separately. Richard H. Anthony Plan Delaware Save Our Coastal Communities Southern Delaware Group Sierra Club Lewes doesn't neecd more commercial zoning The following letter to the Sussex County Council was submitted to the Cape Gazette for publication. As a resident of Lewes and an employee at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate in New Castle County, I was thinking the other day, what two great places to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Lucky for all of us at Winterthur, Winterthur will never be changed into some commercial enterprise or a development. Our board of directors at Winterthur were proactive to make sure the almost 1,000 acres is kept in a conservancy and preserved for future generations to view the lovely vistas, naturalistic garden and nature. Wouldn't the same hold true for Lewes during this time of excessive building, which permanently destroys natural habi- tats, disregards the future effects of the impact on the environment, fosters exces- sive traffic in a-confined space and simply ignores the public's opinion to halt such development as the proposed change from farmland to commercial looms before the Sussex County Council? What has hap- pened to the motto, "Let's do the right thing?" I hope this is the time that the members of the Sussex County Council will really listen to the public and give some of the power back to the many groups who have spent endless hours of volunteer time presenting sound arguments against this project. Isn't your role to listen and to vote according to what you hear from the majority of the public? I'm sure there have been quite persuasive arguments and reams of paper to "prove" the proposed mall will have little impact on the town of Lewes and its surroundings. However, Route One is a fine example of such congestion and surely you can know that we do not need another corridor of con- gestion, pollution, more litter and chaos in the area. Also, take a ride around this side of the county and you'll notice there are many empty commercial real estate sites available. We do not need another com- mercial enterprise or in fact another hous- ing development. So please stand up this time and do the right thing and vote "no" to the proposed Townsend issue. It is about time that our Sussex County Council says "no" to a huge enterprise like this one. Where were the du Ponts; they certainly would have placed some of the land around Lewes into a fine conservancy for all gen- erations to enjoy. Do the same, Sussex County Council. Thank you. Karen M. Fischer Lewes Zoning change would be catastrophic for Lewes The following letter to Sussex County Council was copied to the Cape Gazette for publication. I attended last week's council hearing on the Lingo-Townsend zoning change appli- cation along with many of my fellow citi- zens. First, I was to say the least disap- pointed that the initial two and a half hours was taken up by the applicant's parade of "experts" presenting the same material that was already provided to council members. Council should have taken steps to reduce the time allotted for applicant presentation, which turned out to be deliberately lengthy in order to delay or discourage some of the public response speakers following. Very recently the citizens of the Lewes area have worked diligently on the large- scale Showfield development project between city and county with a possible annexation as the outcome. Also a major effort on "Managing Growth Around Lewes" was conducted with the initiative of bringing the city and Sussex County closer On land use and quality of life issues. Beginning steps in developing a memo of understanding between the two jurisdic- tions have already been taken. Now, seemingly out of nowhere comes the bombshell surprise of the proposal to change zoning in order that an enormous shopping mall could be built literally on Lewes' doorstep; Such a major commer- cial undertaking belongs nowhere near the proposed property for many reasons already given by others or by any defini- tion. In fact no real need has been present- ed in support of the proposal, a requirement for the consideration of any zoning change. Whereas the region may need major depart- ment stores and major businesses, provid- ing these along Kings Highway in the Lewes area, a historical treasure for entire state, is the least suitable option to many other possible sites along Route 1 or to the west. Why is the process toward the decision on the zoning change of such an obviously major-magnitude being conducted so speedily? All concerned, especially our council members charged with making the right decision, need much more time to study all aspects. Extending only a few days until Feb. 13 to allow for further input adds to the mockery of the process. Major necessary input is still missing. DelDOT must return and complete a study of the impact of traffic flow at the major problem point - the Route 1 intersection, even though current growth will create near gridlock beginning at that point in the not- too-distant future. Decisions of major developments of this type cannot be made in a vacuum, but should be viewed within the context of land use plans and infrastruc- ture adequacy. Major roadway expansions in the area, already way behind the need, should be completed first, or at least under way when such a proposal as Townsend's is allowed to be considered. I am expecting that council will make the right decision for all concerned. A propos- al of the scope of the subject application has a major bearing on the future of the sur- rounding area. We believe that the request- ed zoning change will create catastrophic change to the Lewes community and extend far beyond into the Surrounding coastal region. William Brown Lewes If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is I am concerned about the growing demands placed on undeveloped property owners by various public officials, state agencies and some members of the general public. There are two types of land owner- ship: publicly owned land and privately owned land. I believe there are significant differences between the two. Publicly owned lands are those owned by federal, state and local governments. These lands are owned by the government for the bene- fit of the general public and are ours to use, of course with certain restrictions. Privately owned lands are deeded parcels to me, you and other legal entities. Most of you have, and expect to have, a sense of privacy about your parcel of land, home, condominium or other property. I have the same feelings about the land that I own. Privately owned land is not available for the public to enjoy, unless the owner expressly wished this to be the case. Apparently, certain individuals feel they have the right to demand other property owners give up certain privileges they cur- rently enjoy for the express benefit of oth- ers. These individuals will use regulations, ordinances or changes to the law (hereafter called changes) to try and accomplish their goal - which is to extend the public's right to make use of your private property. Of course, there is no compensation of any kind offered. They will just take it. You might think this is an extreme statement, .but when is enough, enough and where do you draw the line? You and I must never give up our individual property rights. They are certainly worth fighting to protect. Throughout my life I have chosen to invest in real estate as opposed to all the other types of investments one could choose (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.). To date, by my choice, most all of my real estate is undeveloped. It is important to note that new regulations, ordinances and changes to the law only apply to undevel- oped property. All developed property is grandfathered. By grandfathering all exist- Continued on page 28