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Residents meet to discuss Village Center hearing

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Consortium represents eight communities

Following a joint Lewes Mayor and Council and BPW meeting July 7 on the proposed Gills Neck Village Center, a consortium of communities met later in the day to discuss related issues. The crowd of about 200 residents spilled over into two meeting rooms at the new Lewes library.

Coordinator Dennis Crawford, a resident of Senators, said the meeting was scheduled to provide updated information about the Thursday, July 14 Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission hearing concerning a rezoning application from agricultural-residential, AR-1, to neighborhood business, B-l, to make way for the proposed shopping center. "What's next?" he asked. "How many more B-l zonings will there be?"

Developer J.G. Townsend Jr.

& Co. has filed an application for B-l zoning for an 11.6-acre parcel at Gills Neck Road and Kings Highway. Proposed is a shopping center less than 75,000 square feet, the maximum allowed under B-l zoning.

Crawford said the area is already inundated with development. He said eight existing communities in the Gills Neck Road area total more than 1,400 units, not counting Showfield's 166 homes under construction and the 430 units proposed at Governors.

Residents representing the communities spoke about traffic, Lewes' wellhead-protection area and the possibility of increased crime.

Francis Mahon, a Wolfe Runne resident, said because part of the parcel is in the wellhead-protection area, its best use is agricultural or as green space to protect the aquifer and recharge area. "We know that traffic is a nuisance, but good water is essential for life," he said.

Lee Howard, a Senators resident, told the group that most people may not be aware current plans include a street connecting the proposed shopping center, Governors and Senators. He said when the community's residents take over the homeowners association from the developer they should have the right to reject a through street to Governors.

"They want to use privately owned streets to alleviate traffic on Gills Neck Road," Crawford said.

Crawford said residents are going to hear a lot about property rights. "We have land rights too, and we need to stand up for our rights," he said. "Current zoning allows for agricultural uses and protection of water resources. A zoning change is not by right - they have to prove the need for this."

Upcoming hearings

Sussex County Planning and Zoning: 6 p.m., Thursday, July 14.

Sussex County Council: 130 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Both hearings take place in the county administration building at 2 The Circle, Georgetown. Meetings are also broadcast on the county's website at sussexcountyde.gov.



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Original Publication Date: July 8, 2016



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