I became aware in 2016 that the Old Mill Landing property had been surveyed twice before, most recently in 2014. Concerned, I contacted several funding organizations requesting funding to put the strategic property into a preserve in the event that the property would be sold to a developer.

Meanwhile, I repeatedly contacted the State to see if a developer was actively seeking to develop the land. When DE PLUS (Preliminary Land Use Service) told me that developer (O.A. Schell) had scheduled a PLUS meeting for August 2018, I attended that meeting but was not allowed to speak.

Concerned, I again reached out to many organizations, including several DNREC professionals, for help funding a preserve. They understood the strategic importance of that property but were frustrated by the fact that they repeatedly expended their valuable resources in writing detailed PLUS comments to no avail, because they were ignored and development habitually proceeded unthwarted by environmental concerns.

In this instance, DNREC, as witnessed by their detailed and powerful PLUS comments, stepped up to the plate and gave P&Z the power of their voice. I want to heartily thank DNREC for their professionalism and for the time they took to paint a picture for P&Z of the strategic nature of this particular parcel and of the impact of future development on the health of our fragile Dirickson Creek and its existing residents.

I want to thank our P&Z commissioners for listening to our concerns, for further acquainting themselves with this parcel, for further researching the details of this strategically located parcel and for ultimately deliberating amongst themselves to craft an amended conditional approval to lessen the impact of development on this land. I want to further thank our county attorney for researching and drafting the legally binding P&Z conditions of approval, backed in confidence by our existing Sussex County law.

Finally, I want to thank the many residents who maintained awareness of the status of this OML parcel throughout this process, and who made their feelings known through their voice and through their letters.

This conditional approval is a compromise to be sure. It does not allow for all of the things that the property owner or the developer want, nor does it protect the environment or our properties from future flooding as well as we residents would like.

I applaud and support the efforts of DNREC, P&Z, and the county attorney in their conditional approval. I will be watching with bated breath to see P&Z vote to uphold their conditional approval decision in the face of developer Schell’s reconsideration letter request at the Thursday, April 9, P&Z meeting. Note: this meeting will be closed to the public due to the coronavirus, but will be available for live streaming online. Mark your calendars, everyone.

Anna vonLindenberg

Dirickson Creek Friend