About 100 people rallied along the shores of Love Creek near Lewes on a cold Saturday morning to oppose a proposed RV campground.
Residents from more than 10 communities in the area took part in the Feb. 9 rally at the Briarwood Estates clubhouse off Route 24. Many appeared with “Stop RV City” signs and chanted that slogan throughout the rally.
Plans to develop a 162-acre campground for RVs, tents and cabins have been submitted to Sussex County officials. Jack Lingo Asset Management has two applications pending for Love Creek RV Resort and Campground off Cedar Grove Road between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. Lingo is asking for a conditional use and a zoning change from GR, general-residential district, to AR-1, agricultural residential, for 74 acres of the parcel. If approved, the entire parcel would be zoned AR-1. Campgrounds are not prohibited in GR zones.
Included on the site plan filed with the county's planning and zoning department are 628 camping sites, including 516 for recreational vehicles, 30 for tents and another 82 sites for rental cabins. Within the resort are an amphitheater/chapel, welcome center, fitness center, laundry, clubhouse, general store, several pavilions and paddle boat launches, canoe outfitter, pumping station, swimming ponds, pools and RV storage.
Sussex County Planning and Zoning commissioners have deferred on a recommendation to county council, which has scheduled a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the county administration building on The Circle in Georgetown.
Following the indoor rally, with signs in hand, the group left the warmth of the Briarwood clubhouse to see the location of a proposed dock and canoe, kayak launch area included on the project's site plan. Several Briarwood homes would be across the creek from the site.
Neil Trugman, president of the Briarwood Estates Homeowners Association, said opponents should focus on the lack of infrastructure in the area and not dwell on the pros and cons of RVs and campgrounds.
“This county needs smart growth with the infrastructure improved first,” he said. “We are not against RVs. It's the infrastructure that needs to be better whether there are 500 homes or 600 RVs.”
In letters and emails to the county and during testimony, residents have complained about the area's narrow roads with no shoulders. The scope of the project is also a concern.
Paul Hammersfahr, president of The Retreat at Love Creek Homeowners Association, said once the campground was built out, there could be as many as 2,000 to 3,000 people at the site.
Hammersfahr read a letter from Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O'Mara reiterating the department's position that the 162-acre parcel should be permanently protected from development because of its proximity to Love Creek.
“The question is do we want quality of life or quantity of life?” Hammersphar asked. He urged as many people as possible to write letters and send emails to be placed on the public record. So far, he said, more than 600 people have signed petitions in opposition to the project.
Nick Hammonds, representing the developer, said plans have been modified based on residents' comments, including additional buffers and the relocation of cabin sites and an entrance off Ward Road. In addition, the developer will be required to make improvements to Cedar Grove Road.
“I think we've addressed the main concerns,” Hammonds said. “I think some people make up their minds from the get-go, and it doesn't matter what you do.”
He said the public will hear basically the same presentation at the Feb. 19 county council hearing that was given to the planning and zoning commission.
He repeated what was said during the planning and zoning commission hearing on traffic concerns expressed by residents. As the parcel is currently zoned, on the GR zoned portion, the developer could build up to 322 homes or develop a manufactured home park and on the AR-1 zoned portion, another 190 homes could be constructed. “Traffic would be far more intense with residential development compared to a seasonal campground,” Hammonds said. “It's not a residential subdivision with traffic constantly coming and going. I think this gets overlooked.”