Delaware’s inland bays are beautiful, but they leave room only for a handful of roadways to the beach. And after decades of not enforcing posted signs to that effect, this summer, Sea Colony is restricting public use of the community’s private road to the beach, which includes turning away cars that don’t have a Sea Colony vehicle pass.
First of all, Westway Drive is a private road and is not maintained by the Delaware Department of Transportation, said Tom Olson, ResortQuest area general manager.
“What we’re trying to do is make sure the roadways are safe for our … owners and guests,” Olson said. “The entrances have been posted as a private community for a very long time. We’re finding more and more traffic comes through … and we’re concerned about that.”
Although Westway Drive has always had a small sign reminding drivers that Sea Colony is a private community, new sandwich boards appeared at the start of the 2017 summer season: “DO NOT ENTER/No Public Thruway/Pass Required.”
But the public particularly took notice during Independence Day weekend, when drivers seeking to avoid the Route 26 backup, tried to use Westway Drive to get from Kent Avenue to Coastal Highway (Route 1). Sea Colony staff insisted that drivers either show a vehicle pass or find another route — usually Jefferson Drive, which is about a quarter-mile away.
“It began this year, when we saw the increase in traffic, which was quite concerning,” Olson said. “We’ve seen as many as 130 cars get turned around in a day in the period of time that we’ve been monitoring.”
Those are cars that don’t have the right to enter.
Sea Colony is a private housing association with 2,100 units, which represents thousands of homeowners, renters and their guests. Similar to a homeowner association, the tennis and housing community is managed by Sea Colony Recreational Association Inc. (SCRA).
All registered owners and guests have vehicle passes, which allows parking and entry into the gated areas.
What if people are legitimate guests of a homeowner, but they don’t have a permit?
“An owner would have to call you in as a guest,” Olson said. “The owners know who they have to call to get entry for guests.”
The road isn’t currently monitored 24 hours a day, but primarily when traffic volumes are highest.
“Any roadway that is owned by Sea Colony is subject of that kind of review,” Olson said.
Cyclists and pedestrians on Sea Colony roads are also expected to wear a guest badge.
How do the owners and residents feel about this new rule?
“For the most part, they support it,” Olson said. “They understand why it’s being done and the intentions behind it, which is safety, and they support it.”
As for the general community, “I’m sure there are some people that would normally use those road ways that are unhappy with it,” he added.
Olson said Sea Colony will continue to enforce members-only rules as long as they perceive there is a problem.