Wednesday Open Thread

Delaware Right   So once again, I invite our guest to help drive the conversation. I will offer one topic to get the ball rolling.  Not so long ago, Sussex County Council voted down the private property rights of a land owner/developer, they voted down economic growth, they voted down jobs, and they voted to have tax payers, pay 100% of the cost of an overpass, which everyone knows will be built in the next five, to ten years.

Of course, I am talking  about, the Overbrook Town Center project, which County Council voted against 4 to 1, even after the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board was to approve.

Many felt at the time, the Council had made a serious mistake. In fact there is widespread support for primary challenges of the two Republicans up for re-election who voted against it. Sam Wilson already has a challenger in Lisa Hudson-Briggs, and the rumor mill has been working overtime that Council President,Mike Vincent, needs an opponent.

Of course, the fact the Council voted down jobs, and the economy, and property rights, is shocking enough, since the Council is controlled by Republicans, you know, the people who are always talking about jobs and the economy and property rights.

But the looming danger to tax payers is two-fold. One is the cost of the overpass at Cave Neck Road, which the developer was to put up $8 million towards the construction, as well as “GIVING”  the land on which the overpass would have set, another tidy sum I’m sure. Which will now fall completely to tax payers, to pay for.

Secondly, the threat of another, that’s right another, law suit against Sussex County is real and present. The clock is ticking, and I would not be surprised if in the very near future, the county will be served notice of a court appeal on the vote.

The developer followed all the rules, the development was within the county’s development planning zone, it was where it was supposed to be built. Planning and Zoning had given a positive recommendation. Therefore, the County Council in voting no, has put the tax payers on the hook for another, bad judgement. There is also the chance, even if the developer were to lose the appeal, they would then sue for damages for being strung along for so long spending money on attorneys, being made to wait, some believe for Councilman Sam Wilson to recover from his recent stroke.

I believe there is a time limit for appealing the vote, that time limit is running out, so expect the developer’s attorneys to be filing the  appeal very soon.

Now talk amongst yourselves, and have a wonderful Wednesday.

34 Comments on "Wednesday Open Thread"

  1. Rick says:

    What’s funny is that the money people from Washington who run Lewes were hysterically opposed to a project three miles north of Five Points in a nondescript cornfield, yet the City of Lewes approved the condemnation of the last area of woodland in the city (the Fourth Street Forest).

    Now, without the mall, there will be no real need for an overpass at Cave Neck and One ( but there is a need for a traffic light). However, there is a desperate need- and there has been for years- for an overpass at Savannah and One. The Five Points intersection is an unmitigated disaster, even
    in the dead of winter. Traffic backs-up as far as the Food Lion light, as far as the winery, and a good fifty yards down 23 and to the curve at Lowe’s.

    With the growth in this area, and the number of high-income (and thus, high state income tax) residents in Lewes, Rehoboth and the periphery, one could say that the region is being underserved by the state, to the point of negligence.

    It is time for Schwartzkopf to use his influence in the legislature, and fix this mess.

  2. fightingbluehen says:

    “It is time for Schwartzkopf to use his influence in the legislature, and fix this mess.”

    Apparently all the road work being done right now in Sussex is the result of Sussex Republicans being rewarded for getting onboard with the current budget.

    One issue I have is creating construction delays on the detour route that takes you around the Robinsonville Rd closer.
    Why would you schedule road construction on the only detour route around existing road construction?

  3. mouse says:

    Not sure why the Lewes Council would approve such crap. An wealthy a-hole who never has enough and has no problem raping the land to have more. It’s insane how Sussex legislators and Sussex Council have allowed the county to be totally neglected

  4. Frank Knotts says:

    Rick, a traffic light at cave neck would only further cause backups. What an overpass would allow the flow of traffic in all directions to do just that, flow. And if you think it was just the idea of the Town Center being there that argues for an overpass, you need only ride north on Rt 1 to see the overpasses moving south. Cave Neck will have one in five to ten years, with many of the same people screaming for it, who opposed it now. Difference being, now tax payers will foot the bill 100%. And pay the cost of the law suit that is destined to be filed.

  5. fightingbluehen says:

    You can make a list of the people responsible for all this mess. It would include previous county council members, most of whom came from Western Sussex. People like Vance Phillips, Dale Dukes and Lyn Rogers, and all the lawyers who helped.

    Sussex County probably should have been divided into two counties: East and West Sussex. Probably still should be.

  6. Honi Soit says:

    Frank, a couple of points here:

    1. Your argument makes it sound as though Council voted on plans for the Overbrook Center. Instead, Council voted on up-zoning of the land that would make possible the development of large-scale commercial projects.
    2. Yes, P&Z voted to approve the up-zoning proposal, but by a split of 3-2. Their vote was based on information they had at the time. Council received more input than P&Z.
    3. A factor in Council’s vote was that the property rights of neighboring farms likely would be adversely impacted to the point that it would effectively shut their farming businesses down. Note Sec of Agriculture Ed Kee’s letter of opposition.
    4. You paint Sam Wilson as an opponent of property rights. I think this is unfair. Wilson’s record is one that is firmly slanted toward blanket protection of property rights–so much so that he is utterly antagonistic toward government telling property owners what they may or may not do with their land. If Wilson had his way, most of code would be rescinded.
    5. I think Wilson cast the vote he did because he saw the up-zoning proposal as one that would abridge the rights of adjacent land owners. That those land owners were farmers made the decision all the more difficult for him. Or far much easier, depending on how you look at it.

  7. Dave says:

    “Sussex County probably should have been divided into two counties: East and West Sussex. Probably still should be.”

    Yep and if the DE constitution could be easily amended, I would be all in favor of it even though East and West have far different economic means, which could have been somewhat ameliorated, if the OTC were located in the underserved and less congested western part of Sussex. I would have bee happy to drive west to get to stores I would want (actually, I can’t really think of any I would want except a Wegmans, which I’ll never have here).

  8. Dave says:

    Cave Neck Road needs a traffic light. It would not add to congestion or delay. In fact it would spread out traffic a bit before hitting 5 Points. Since the next light is at Rt16, there is no reason not to have a light in that 7 mile stretch between 16 and 5 Points. An overpass is overkill and creates a serious impact to Paynters Mill residents, although if you could create an overpass for left turns from northbound 1, that might be an option. In any event, the Council should (but won’t) consider land use decisions in light of infrastructure and work with the state on said infrastructure before there are problems. Cave Neck Road is not the highest priority. 5 Points (eliminating the Plantation and Beaver damn cutoff) as well as RT 24 are the highest priorities.

  9. Dave says:

    “Not sure why the Lewes Council would approve such crap”

    Because when all is said and done there was no cause for denial of the proposal. Unfortunately, the opposition’s campaign to “Save the 4th Street Forest” consisted only of denying the proposal. It wasn’t their forest to save. In fact, if they were walking in the forest all these years, they were trespassing and what were they doing before the proposed development? Why enjoying the forest that was provided to them at the largesse of the land owner.

    When I decided to move to DE around 2010, it was partially because of Lewes’ charm. The 4th Street Forest included, but I also knew that what I found attractive about DE, others did as well. For Lewes the handwriting was on the wall. Critical thinking individuals would have recognized that and would have started thinking about their quality of life and you would have seen a campaign to buy the forest. You know why they didn’t? Because there is no strategic thinking or planning. Complacent in getting something for nothing, they presumed that that status quo was going to remain forever (or at least through their lifetime). So “Save the 4th Street Forest” really should have been “Save The 4th Street Forest But Not Our Expense Because We Should Be Able To Enjoy It For Free”

    As I tell people who move here from other states, your property taxes are very low because you don’t get any services from the county. So you aren’t going to have same services you had in NJ at a DE Sussex County price. If you want something (like county parks) you have to pay for them because there is no free lunch.

  10. mouse says:

    They could have bought the land or made restrictions requiring keeping a forested buffer with a walking trail

  11. Fish Bites says:

    Blow up the bridges over the canal, give the southern bank a good push, and in a few years we might have a lovely Caribbean island to call our own.

  12. Rick says:

    Rick, a traffic light at cave neck would only further cause backups.

    It’s bad there, no question. Maybe try adding a second left-turn lane in the northbound median. But Five Points is much worse.

    Not sure why the Lewes Council would approve such crap.

    Good question, particularly in light of the fact that the whole town was against it. I suppose it was about money; new residents, new income. Maybe they need another nondescript public project to go along with the new unneeded library, which I might add looks more like the livestock exhibit building at the state fair than a library.

    Cave Neck Road needs a traffic light. It would not add to congestion or delay. In fact it would spread out traffic a bit before hitting 5 Points.

    The problem isn’t southbound, but northbound. In the evening, the left turn lane backs-up into the left through traffic lane, and it would still do so if there were a light. So, put a light and add a second turn lane.

    They could have bought the land…

    Talk is cheap. And they talked about it. But they didn’t want to put their money where their mouths are. So now they can live with the consequences.

    But, fret not; Lewes’ friend Jack Lingo will construct a bike path.

  13. Frank Knotts says:

    A light at cave neck would solve nothing since traffic backs up from five points past cave neck on the weekend making the left turn impossible. Where as an overpass would allow left turns to yield off and cross Rt 1 on the overpass.
    Honi, not sure how you justify denying one person’s rights by saying you can’t deny another person’s rights.
    This location is within the development zone pushed for by the same people who fought this.
    The issue with the farmer behind it was mostly crop dusting, but if the land is developed residential, guess what, no spraying.
    The law suit will settle this, and no matter how it comes out, the tax payers will pay a price for a poor council decision.

  14. Honi Soit says:

    Frank: The sellers had no right to have their land re-zoned. Do you think your next-door neighbor has a right to have his land rezoned for commercial development and that you have no say in the matter?

    No lawsuit has been filed and I’d be surprised if one is. The developer has to show that Council did not rationally and fairly apply its zoning code and regulations. That’s going to be a high bar. Look how far Lingo-Townsend got in filing a 2010 lawsuit in the Court of Chancery over Council’s denial of Village Centre.

    Recall that Arlett was the only Council member who voted in favor and his entire argument was that if you can’t build a shopping center along a federal highway, then where can you build one? (Of course, Arlett didn’t know that there is no such thing as a federal highway. I guess he was busy promoting himself and Trump.)

  15. meatball says:

    Ha, ha under served..charming….remember when Roses was the only department store? how bout the Doxee clam factory on the canal….remember all the fishing shacks right before you got to Cape Henlopen state park…Rose and Crown?…sand pit at five points…remember when they built lowes…Home Depot.. remember when the only way to get fish at a local restaurant was fried….Grottos had only one location…Cannery Village was an actual cannery (owned by Mrs Sam Calagione’ father)…Sakatumi was a bank…only one WAWA…times change. What Dave saw as quaint that inspired him to move there didn’t really exist ten years before he came. Summer traffic is nothing compared to what it was like back in the 70’s and 80’s when route one was a two lane road.

    All progress, I agree with Frank.

  16. Frank Knotts says:

    Honi, the developers had a right to have their petition heard and voted on according to the law, not the emotions of those who moved here and live on land that was also once farm land.
    The proposal is located within the comprehensive development planning zone.
    What Arllett should have said was, if we can’t build it where we said we could build it, then where can we build it.
    And yes, my neighbor has the right to be rezoned if, as this developer did, they meet all the requirements.

  17. fightingbluehen says:

    A friend of mine I grew up with became a major developer in our area, and he used to joke about the reputation of Sussex County rubber stamping all proposed developments.

    I’m glad times have changed. Better late than never, I guess.

  18. Frank Knotts says:

    That’s right FBH, we got ours, screw everyone else.

  19. Fish Bites says:

    This weekend, I’m hoping to catch some holiday sale specials at Target on Monday:

  20. Rick says:

    I was on Route 1 northbound yesterday, at about 11 a.m., approaching Five Points. The left turn lanes (to go west on 9) were backed-up into the left through traffic lane because the left turn lane at the Ace Hardware light (to go to Plantation Rd or 23) was backed-up to the Rt. 1 light, so the left lane of the left turn light on 1 couldn’t move. At 11 a.m., northbound.

    The state simply must build an overpass at Five Points. The traffic there is worse than anywhere in Little Wilmadelphia. No, it won’t significantly help Saturday beach traffic southbound, but that isn’t the problem. Five Points is a disaster for everyone trying to go anywhere.

    And while they’re at it, maybe they could allow the Troop 7 Wawa to construct an exit for southbound Rt. 1. If you go there on a winter weekend or anytime in the summer, remember to buy a sandwich- you’ll have time to eat it waiting to get out of the parking lot. And if you are foolish enough to go to Home Goods, buy a recliner- you may stay in the parking lot for a couple of hours.

    Also- and this is a simple fix- is the light at Delaware Distillery (the old Roadhouse). Say you were at Rita’s or Panera, and you want to go left on 1 at the light. There are three lanes. For a long time, two lanes could turn left (southbound) on 1. Now, only the left lane can turn left- the center lane is to go straight to the Outlets, and the right lane is for 1 northbound. Thus, the left turn lanes backs-up so far that people can’t get out of the Rita’s, Shanghai Buffet, etc. parking lot. The solution is simple- make the two left lanes left turn lanes again and make the right lane straight (to the Outlets). People who want to go right on 1 (northbound) can simply skip the light, and go out at Candy Kitchen or at Panera. People who live here know this- doesn’t DELDOT ever send people out on the road to see what a mess they’ve created? They are idiots.

  21. Honi Soit says:

    Not just DelDot. Sam Wilson didn’t know what a mess he helped to create either. From the May 13th issue of the Cape Gazette:

    Sussex County Councilman Sam Wilson said his eyes were opened during a recent trip along back roads in the Lewes-Rehoboth Beach area. “I’ve never seen so many homes,” he said. “I didn’t realize it was that bad.”

  22. Dave says:

    “I was on Route 1 northbound yesterday, at about 11 a.m., approaching Five Points.”

    I was in the left turn lane to go west on 9 at 11 am. So you passed me. I was trying to go south to 24 but decided that the traffic was too heavy and figured I would cut over to the back roads. Silly me. I sat in the left turn lane for 30 or so minutes. I should have gone up to Minos Conway or gone south as I originally wanted to do.

    5 points is a mess and if they can’t get an overpass done quickly, what they should do is eliminate the Belltown Road intersection going to Beaver Dam AND at the same time close the Church St intersection because if they don’t the mess will just move a little further up the road. Lowes might complain, but no one else will.

  23. Frank Knotts says:

    No one denies Five Points is congested. it does not mitigate the fact that Cave Neck would also be much improved by an overpass, and one will be built, but thanks to the County Council, it will be at 100% tax payer’s cost.
    And Dave, “5 points is a mess and if they can’t get an overpass done quickly, what they should do is eliminate the Belltown Road intersection going to Beaver Dam AND at the same time close the Church St intersection because if they don’t the mess will just move a little further up the road. Lowes might complain, but no one else will.”
    Really? No one? The hundreds of people who shop there daily won’t complain? The people who live on Shady Road won’t complain, when all those cars start coming down their road to get to Lowe’s?
    Or maybe you are a Home Depot person and don’t care if Lowe’s loses business to HD just out of convenience.
    Once again we see the thought process of convenience before business. If something inconveniences people, then we care not how it affects business.
    And in case some of you weren’t around, there was once a proposal for an overpass at Five Points like ten or more years ago. Can you guess why it’s not there?
    Because people in the area thought it would ruin the local image. Also there were petitions circulated to protect Surf Bagel and Best Hardware. Ironic that back then it was the protection of businesses which created the inconvenience of today.
    The real point is, at some point the state and county have to take control of the responsibility they have, and stop voting and making decisions based on the emotional responses of the people in the immediate area around proposed projects.

  24. Rick says:

    I was in the left turn lane to go west on 9 at 11 am. So you passed me.

    I am glad that someone else witnessed this debacle, because I’m sure many people thought I was exaggerating. As you know, Dave, I wasn’t. The intersection is an unmitigated disaster.

    Yes Frank, Cave Neck needs attention, but it doesn’t come even remotely close to the problems at Five Points.

  25. mouse says:

    The land use plan is rigged for developers

  26. Rick says:

    DELDOT- which is very much aware of building projects way before they are actually built- and the state, are utterly negligent when it comes to roads in rapidly-growing Sussex. There is no sense of urgency, go real grasp as to the extent of the traffic problems. The Five Points “solution” is a joke, more worthy of a five-year-old designing roads in the dirt for his toy cars than professional engineers. Routes 24 and 9 are falling behind the demand.

    There can never be a solution to the Friday night-Saturday morning vehicular exodus to Rehoboth in the summer. I’ve always looked at downtown Rehoboth as a football stadium, with thousands of cars heading to one parking lot. But Five Points, Cave Neck and other locations have nothing to do with summer visitors. They are dangerous bottlenecks year-round, and must be addressed.

    Remember the old TV show “Car 54 Where Are You?”

    Pete Schwartzkopf, where are you?

  27. Frank Knotts says:

    Rick, I agree on the summer traffic, and I have read you stating that living at the beach comes with expected cost and inconvenience. I also agree on that.
    But why oppose an overpass at Cave Neck?

  28. Anonymous says:

    People are worried about travel to the beach???
    Small business will be shut down if this continues and Delmarva continues to rape us through the coals. I’m surprised that all the bloggers are not all over this!

  29. Rick says:

    But why oppose an overpass at Cave Neck?

    Frank, I don’t oppose an overpass at Cave Neck. But, given a choice, I’d much prefer one at Five Points, because the need is much greater. Getting one overpass from the legislature seems to be the impossible dream. Getting two? What is the word for less likely than impossible?

  30. dude says:

    How about the landslide in the laurel school board election. Must have people you can trust on the School Board

  31. mouse says:

    Who won? Someone promising mandatory Christian prayer and to replace science class with religious dogma?

  32. Rick says:

    Who won? Someone promising mandatory Christian prayer and to replace science class with religious dogma?

    No, an Imam who believes that a student who steals chalk should have his hands cut-off for punishment.

  33. Frank Knotts says:

    Well Rick considering that if OTC had been approved, we would have gotten one, at a reduced cost to tax payers, that would have been better that none.

  34. dude says:

    ??? where did that come from?

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