Cape Gazette
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Homeowners learn state of Lewes is busy

Becker: Exciting time to live here
By Henry J. Evans Jr. | Oct 14, 2013
Photo by: Henry J. Evans Jr. Lewes Deputy Mayor Ted Becker tells Lewes Homeowners Association members what's going on in the city. Becker said it's an exciting time to live in Lewes.

Lewes — About a generation ago, the City of Lewes was home to a thriving menhaden fishing fleet doing business as Fish Products Inc. Today, the Delaware Bay coast where the fish plant once stood is filled with upscale homes reflective of Lewes’ sensibilities.

In a recent annual Lewes Homeowners Association update on the state of the city, Lewes Deputy Mayor Ted Becker said there probably wasn’t anything he could tell the group they didn’t already know because all of them are well informed.

Mayor Jim Ford, Ford, who typically speaks to the group, was officiating a wedding; it was the second consecutive time in as many years that Becker has filled in for the mayor.

“It’s an exciting time to live here; there’s lots going on,” Becker said.

He said City Councilman Dennis Reardon, elected in May, has gotten off to a busy start and is doing a good job.

The new Lewes Public Library project is making progress, and Becker Morgan Group architects estimate it could cost around $10 million to build. “It’s an exciting building, but it’s going to be expensive,” Becker said.

He said half of the cost of the new library is likely to be covered by the state, and the other half would come from grants and public donations.

“Many of us have dipped into our pockets in the past, and I’d encourage you to do it again,” he said.

Jefferson Street construction is underway, Becker said, with installation of new water and sewer lines and possibly a Chesapeake Utilities natural gas line. Chesapeake Utilities is awaiting a Public Utilities Commission decision on the company’s rate request.

Many Lewes homeowners are eager to connect to natural gas.

“We have Chesapeake Utility’s ear more than any other community. We all should watch what happens with the PUC rate request,” Becker said.

Showfield at Lewes, a proposed 607-home community, is back for consideration after a six-year absence.

Developers have asked the city to allow project planning to pick up where they stopped without going back to square one as required after a lengthy absence.

“Showfield has risen and fallen and risen again,” Becker said.

The development is planned for parcels between Gills Neck Road and Freeman Highway. About 90-acres are within city limits and developers are asking Lewes to annex 140 acres that are outside the city.

Rest rooms in Mary Vessels and Zwaanendael parks are slated for improvement, Becker said. The Vessels facility will be updated and expanded, and by April, he said, a new restroom building will go up in Zwaanendael.

Information about the proposed Highland Heights development, a community of 34 single-family homes has been presented to Lewes Planning Commission once. Public reception was less than lukewarm for the community that could be constructed on an 18.5-acre parcel between West Fourth Street and Seagull Drive.

“It’s a long way from being done,” Becker said. He said the city would like more comments from the public about Highland Heights, which proposes 10,000-square-foot lots for each home.

Becker commented only briefly on the proposed Point Farm development, featuring about 38 high-end homes built on 108 acres outside city limits.

The community would be built adjacent to the Canary Creek community and the Great Marsh.

Project developers have requested the city annex the parcel.

An annexation committee, comprising city council members, has been charged with determining whether annexing the parcel would be good for the city. Becker said there would be public meetings to hear more over the next couple months. The annexation panel has until Sunday, Dec. 1, to reach a decision.

Progress has stalled on a dog park proposed by Lewes Unleashed, which had earlier gained city support.

Becker said its up to state officials to approve the park, which would be constructed on a portion of a parcel the city leases from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

In wrapping up, Becker again said there’s a lot going on in Lewes, and it’s exciting to see things coming together.

“If all of that doesn’t convince you that this is an active community, I don’t know what will,” he said.

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