Letters: December 29, 2006

Say no to Bridlewood, please, planners

It is no secret that developers have been “pushing the envelope” in Sussex County when it comes to seeing how many residences they could get approval for on any given piece of property, and when water frontage was involved, how close they could build to the water.

Under the encouraging auspices of our county council, developers seem to feel little, if any, restraint in the plans they put forward for approval to the council and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Perhaps one of the most bodacious developments being proposed is Bridlewood, located in the area of Banks and Green roads. The plan calls for 621 units to be built on 311 acres located in the Environmentally Sensitive Developing Areas that consist entirely of Level 3 and Level 4 land.

Of the 311 acres, 237 are forest, of which the developer would remove 187 acres, or 78 percent of the current forest now standing. This development can be seriously challenged in at least four ways — environmentally, traffic impact, waste treatment and need.

The Department of Agriculture says: “A large portion of the proposed development is in an area designated as Level 4 under the Strategies for State Policies and Spending. The Strategies and the Sussex County Comprehensive Plan do not support this type of isolated development in this area. The intent of these plans is to preserve the agricultural lands, forestlands, recreational uses and open spaces that are preferred in Level 4 areas.”

“More importantly, the Department of Agriculture does not support this project because it negatively impacts those land uses that are the backbone of Delaware’s resource industries — agriculture, forestry, horticulture, recreational uses and open spaces that are preferred uses in Level 4 areas.

“This proposed development site is designated as high-value forestland on the Green Infrastructure Strategy.”

“In other words, in addition to their location in a rural area, due to their soil quality and other significant factors, these lands have been further designated by the state for conservation and preservation.”

A major concern of residents in the area is the negative traffic impact this development would have on the area, estimating an average of two vehicles per unit this development would put another 1,200-plus vehicles into this area 24/7.

The state Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has this to say about the proposed development: “Because Green Road has no outlet, the proposed development would be completely dependent on the intersection of Banks and Green Road for access if a connection to Winding Creek Village (an adjacent development) is not provided.”

Since that would mean additional traffic in WCV and additional road maintenance cost to its residents, that request was summarily dismissed, thus leaving the proposed development with only a single road for access and egress.

When viewing the proposed layout of the development, vehicular movement within the development is compromised, especially for emergency vehicles like fire engines, because of the excessive number of intersections that had to be created in order for the developer to accommodate the 600-plus units, roads, limited green space and an equestrian center with accompanying open space to graze the horses.

The traffic flow in and out of the development is further compromised by the fact the only significant open space is located near Banks Road, while many of the housing units are located in areas farthest away from Banks Road, thereby necessitating many turns for responding emergency vehicles and creating more potential traffic accidents at the myriad intersections, especially for those who live at the back of the development.

Banks Road is now categorized as a “local” road and would obviously be inadequate to handle the anticipated additional traffic volume. In fact, DelDOT already planned an upgrade based on current traffic needs, before Bridlewood was considered.

However, it is my understanding the project has been tabled indefinitely due to the lack of funding. But even if funding was available, it appears questionable as to how much it would alleviate the traffic problem since the proposed project “consists of widening Banks Road to incorporate two 11-foot lanes and two 4-foot shoulders.”

Since that already appears to be what is there, its hard to see how the proposed changes will help. The shoulders could be paved and the road re-paved, but its still would be a two-lane road that has to cross over the two-lane Guinea Creek Bridge to get to Long Neck Road.

Until provisions are made to widen the bridge, Banks Road will have to remain a two-lane local road and thus inadequate to handle the anticipated traffic volume that would be generated by the proposed development. Therefore, it would appear that for the foreseeable future Banks Road could not support a Bridlewood-type project.

Because of the proposed development’s proximity to “tidal wetlands and the receiving waters of the inland bay,” the developer is proposing that the waste generated from the proposed development be transferred to the waste treatment facilities located at his Baywood development. From there, it would be combined with the treated waste from Baywood and spray-irrigated over the golf course, as it has been in the past.

The concern is that that by adding the treated waste from 600-plus Bridlewood units to the existing 200-plus Baywood units, at some point the underlying water aquifers could become polluted. Since these are the same aquifers that the drinking water for the area’s residents is drawn from, the concern is quite real.

Also, it my understanding that the developer has an additional 800 residential units planned for the area, thereby further compromising an unsettling situation.

Guinea Creek’s head waters lies within the golf course, and it seems reasonable to assume that the treated waste that is sprayed on the golf course day in and day out could reach the creek and thus eventually reach the bay, perhaps even quicker than it might reach the aquifers.

The new buyers at Bridlewood would rent — not own — their land, and should the developer subsequently decide to raise their rent, as he has done with many on Long Neck Road, we could see more homes going up for sale in the future.

Given that the housing boom has shown definite signs of slowing down (there are over 5,000 house and over 2,000 residential lots for sale in Sussex County) does it really make any sense to destroy a pristine area in order to add 600-plus more units to an already bloated inventory of homes when there seems little need for them?

Allen Ide

West Rehoboth program calls for more support
Editor’s Note: The following letter was forwarded to the Coastal Point for publication.
Dear friends and supporters:

As we near the end of 2006, we want to personally thank you for all the help and support you’ve given the West Rehoboth Youth Program and West Side New Beginnings Inc. Community Based Organization over the past years.

We join and harmonize totally with all of you in saying the time has come for all of us as a community to come together in a concerted effort to make our communities a better and safer place for everyone.

Our communities is blessed to have concerned and involved citizens like you who have taken the time and touched the lives of so many children, youth and their families in West Rehoboth. We must not lose sight and remain focused on our Christian values, traditions and rich diversity which gives our community much of its strength and resilience.

To help our children be well-prepared for the coming year, we are asking you and other special friends of the West Rehoboth Youth Program to continue to support us in 2007. We always welcome new friends and supporters.

As a Christian, student advisor, husband, father of three daughters, father-in-law, grandfather to two grandchildren, child advocate and community activist, I had the distinct opportunity (by invitation only) on Oct. 10, 2006, to attend The White House Conference on School Safety following a series of tragic shootings that have taken place in our nation’s schools.

The Conference was designed to provide an opportunity for educators, law enforcement officials, mental health providers, representatives of community-based organizations, parents and students to come together to share successful strategies for preventing violence and learn from one another.

School and community violence is a complex problem requiring a comprehensive approach. As a father, I know there is nothing more important than keeping our children safe at home, in the community and at school.

Marian Wright Edelman, director of Children Defense Fund, once said, “The legacy I want to leave is a child-care system that says that no kid is going to be left alone or left unsafe.” First Lady Laura Bush said, “Let’s give our children more positive visions for their vision.”

I believe what brings us all together as a community, from laypersons to the White House, is the ultimate sense of destiny, that all of us were created to do something and we ought not to die until we do it.

With the help of several local organizations, West Side New Beginnings Inc. has made great strides in its program for the children of West Rehoboth. The program includes after-school mentoring that stresses reading and writing skills. In addition, there are summer educational and recreational sessions, field trips and community cleanup drives.

With funding we’ve been able to send some of our children to summer camps. Children receive warm meals at the after-school sessions and lunches are served in the summertime.

Thanks to you, our friends and supporters, our efforts are getting results. Students are earning better grades. Many of West Rehoboth’s children are making the honor roll. The trend is up. West Side New Beginnings wants to keep it that way.

Area businesses, churches, individuals and civic groups are being asked to help build and expand the successful programs for West Rehoboth’s children. Also needed are funds for the day-to-day operations of the West Rehoboth Community Center.

West Side New Beginnings depends entirely on the generosity of area churches, businesses, individuals and civic organizations. The Lewes-Rehoboth Association of Churches is the primary funding source for the youth program.

A six- to seven-week program is held in the summer for approximately 45 children ages 5 to 15. Supervised programs include an emphasis on literacy, reading and writing, as well as working with computers, math and physical activities. During the school year, school buses stop at the West Rehoboth Community Center four times a week.

Surrounded by wealthy subdivisions, West Rehoboth today is one of the poorest communities in Delaware. The people of West Rehoboth today are doing everything they can to keep their community and overcome the drugs, crime and blight that cripple the community they love.

As you can see, these are children just like any other children. If given a chance, they want the same kind of opportunities and have the same kind of goals. “The only children we cannot reach are those we refuse to teach.”

As we view the substantial gains we have made together in 2006, please know that you have our many thanks and deepest gratitude for all you’ve done.

We may be contacted at West Side New Beginnings Inc. Community Center, 100 Norwood Street, Rehoboth, Delaware 19971, or call us at (302) 227-5442.

Happy holidays from your friends at West Rehoboth Youth Program.

Brenda Milbourne, Executive Director
Diaz J. Bonville, Program Director
West Rehoboth Youth Program