Fenwick Island Town Council Member Chris Clark sought to clarify this week the basis of his public support for the proposed Isaacs Glen development outside Milton.
The 1,600+ unit cluster subdivision has remained highly controversial — especially given a moratorium imposed by the county on all cluster subdivisions until the language of the relevant ordinances is fine-tuned to eliminate an unintended “density bonus.”
Clark, one of the movers behind recent Your Town meetings on issues of development and county planning, clarified that his letter of support for Isaacs Glen was not in his official capacity with that group, or as a councilman.
“I was not speaking on behalf of Your Town,” Clark said, noting he’d been asked about that a number of times since the letter was referenced at a Jan. 12 hearing on the issue before the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission. Some of those speaking at the hearing had emphasized Clark’s Your Town connection.
“I was asked by the developer, Glen Erkhart to write a letter,” Clark clarified. “I included some of my credentials in the letter, including my involvement with Your Town.”
The endorsement of the project has itself raised some questions, and Clark was happy to explain his reasoning for giving it.
“Based on the information I learned, and have seen and heard discussed, his plan far and away meets the expectations of so many different groups,” Clark said.
Among the elements he cited were plans to set up a community-wide composting area.
“Nobody pays attention to those details. Nobody is thinking about the long-term effects of development,” he elaborated. “It’s a superior development on its own.”
Clark said his understanding of what a superior development should be was, indeed, based in part on attending the Your Town initial meeting in Lewes some months ago. He got additional input from a November follow-up session he helped organize in Fenwick Island.
“That particular project, it is what everybody could want,” he said, noting white picket fences planned for the community’s borders, trees-lined border areas at its edges, a lack of traditional suburban sprawl with convenience stores on every corner. He said those kinds of elements were key factors in his decision to endorse the subdivision plan.
Not playing any part in that decision, he said, was the fact that the property owners — the Isaacs family — are multi-generational farmers seeking, they say, to develop the land as well-deserved financial security after many decades of labor in keeping the family farm going.
That was one of the central themes of the Fenwick Island Your Town session, with representation from some of the county’s farmers, who themselves cited pressure from anti-development groups to preserve farmland despite booming real estate values and lagging farm profitability.
Clark, in fact, said he was unaware the property owners at Isaacs Glen were a farm family or that pressure had been applied to them to keep the land in agricultural use.
The commissioners agreed to defer their decision on Isaacs Glen at the Jan. 12 meeting, after more than three and a half hours of presentation, discussion and public comment. They were due to take it up again at a future meeting but it was not listed as an agenda item leading up to their Jan. 26 meeting.