Cape Gazette


Planners recommend RV park approval

Officials: Amended plan reflects residents' concerns
By Ron MacArthur | Aug 27, 2013
Photo by: Ron MacArthur Paul Hammesfahr talks to residents opposed to the Love Creek RV Resort and Campground prior to the county planning and zoning commission meeting.

The Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted Aug. 22 to recommend approval of a change of zone and a conditional use for a 628-lot RV park and campground along Cedar Grove Road near Lewes.

The commissioners voted 4-1 to recommend that Sussex County Council approve Jack Lingo Asset Management's applications, paving way for the Love Creek RV Resort and Campground on a 162-acre parcel.

Voting against the application was Commissioner Rodney Smith, who said the location was not appropriate for the planned park. Voting in favor of recommendation were commissioners Mike Johnson, Chairman Bob Wheatley, Marty Ross and I.G. Burton.

Sussex County Council will put the matter on a future agenda for a final vote. Council does not meet again until Tuesday, Sept. 10; the agenda for that meeting will not be posted until Wednesday, Sept. 4.

Ross read a detailed analysis of each issue discussed by the opposition. He said there was no evidence that showed nearby property values would be decreased, and in fact he said, testimony was presented that campgrounds and residential areas can co-exist.

On the issue of traffic, one of the opponent's major concerns, Ross said he understood residents' frustrations. “But DelDOT is the traffic czar, and they accept this plan,” he said.

He also downplayed the environmental effect of the proposed project, as highlighted in a letter against development along Love Creek from Department of Natural Resources and Enviromental Control Secretary Colin O'Mara. “The applicants now have a better plan that far exceeds all of the minimum environmental requirements,” he said.

Opponents of the proposed park met for a rally on The Circle in Georgetown prior to the commission meeting. They later filled the meeting room to capacity. “It's hard to imagine how they can ignore all of the factual information we put before them,” said Paul Hammesfahr. “An RV park is fine; it's the location that is the problem. It's out of character with the area.”

“We were able to get 1,254 signatures on petitions against this during the winter months,” Bill Baydella told the crowd. “There is no way they can vote for this thing.”

Four of the five commissioners did not agree. Johnson and Burton said they were impressed by the developers' quick response to amend campground plans to accommodate residents' concerns. Johnson said in the eight years he has been on the commission, he has never seen a developer so amiable to provide extra forested buffers to protect wetlands.

In making the motion to recommend approval, Johnson said the proposed project complies with the county's comprehensive plan update to promote tourism and economic development. He said there are multiple roadways to the parcel and road improvements along Cedar Grove Road are in the plans.

Johnson said the parcel is zoned to allow the construction of up to 513 homes. “This project would not have a more significant impact than a use for home sites and would generate less traffic than a project with single-family homes,” he said, adding that the Delaware Department of Transportation had no objection to the applications.

Johnson read a long list of conditions for council to consider. Those included a clear delineation of all wetlands; a plan for additional forested buffers on the revised site plan; plans for a DART bus stop; hours of operation from March 15 to Nov. 15; no winter storage on campsites; development of an emergency evacuation plan with an emergency entrance available along Ward Road; and a requirement that Welches Pond be off limits to recreation.

A revised site plan must be reviewed and approved by the commission.

Smith was the only commissioner opposed to the applications. “This is not the wisest spot to locate an RV park. And I don't like that we are losing the GR zoning for affordable housing. Where will we recreate it?” he asked.

Organizers of the opposition said they will not give up and will continue their effort to block the proposed park. “We still have another chance, we are not down yet,” Hammesfahr said after the meeting.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Greg and Terri Kordal | Sep 02, 2013 11:56

Time to revisit the open county planner position - pasted in below is a Gazette article from October 2010.  How long will this take???


Time to make some decisions

October 13, 2010

We all know government moves at a snail’s pace, but some recent inaction by Sussex County makes snails look like rabbits.

County council has yet to hire a county planner, although the job has been posted. Insiders tell me the amount budgeted for the position, about $42,000, is not enough to attract a registered planner. In the meantime, the county is relying on a consultant from Urban Research and Development Corp. in Bethlehem, Pa. The county has been without a full-time planner since the retirement of Rick Kautz in May 2009.

Neighboring Kent County, which is smaller than Sussex County, has five certified planners with one vacant position. Sussex has nearly 40,000 more people and 300 square miles more than its northern neighbor.

Here’s another telling statistic from the U.S. Census: In 2009 Sussex issued 1,555 building permits, compared with 806 issued in Kent County. In addition, Sussex has more than 118,000 housing units, compared with 64,000 in Kent County.

Council President Vance Phillips is on the record saying hiring a planner is not a high priority under current economic conditions. Not everyone agrees with that opinion, including council members Joan Deaver and George Cole.

Council has also been dragging its feet on the appointment, or reappointment, of two members of the county board of adjustment. The terms of Dale Callaway of Milton and John Mills of Laurel ended June 30. Ironically, Callaway remains as chairman of the board.

Councilwoman Deaver has made it clear she will not renominate Callaway for the position, one he has held since 1992 (Mills was appointed the same year). Council shot down her first nominee, John Walsh of Rehoboth Beach, and a vote has never come up on her second nominee, former Lewes Police Chief Beau Gooch of Milton. The appointments have until now been low key and made without any discussion, but I don’t think that will be the case anymore.

Some residents are upset the board has an approval rate of more than 80 percent, and they want some new faces. These same residents want the board to follow its own rules and regulations and grant variances only when all criteria can be met. Board members admit that is not always the case.

One can only wonder why council is dragging its feet on these decisions, which are deemed critical in many circles. Could it have something to do with what happens the first Tuesday in November?

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The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.