Showfield requests Lewes waiver, files for PLUS

Portion of project shifts outside city’s jurisdiction
What is now an open field adjacent to Monroe Avenue extended would contain part of the proposed Showfield at Lewes community. Project developers are reviving its plans in light of what appears to be a post-recession economy. SOURCE FILE
August 30, 2013

The developers of Showfield at Lewes, a proposed 607-unit community, are seeking a waiver that would allow the project to proceed without going back to square-one of subdivision planning.

In fall 2009, The City of Lewes granted Showfield’s preliminary subdivision plans and was negotiating with the developer about how it would finance certain public aspects of the project, such as maintaining Whites Pond, barns and trails on the property and the extension of Monroe Avenue.

Lewes Mayor Jim Ford said Showfield representatives, in 2009, said they wanted to pay a single sum of money the city could use as it chose. Nothing happened for five years.

Project principals and developers are Bryce Lingo and T. William Lingo of Showfield LLC, and Hazell Smith and Karen Parker, of Sophora J. LLC.

Bryce Lingo, in an April 17 letter to Lewes building official Henry Baynum, cited city ordinance allowing Mayor and City Council to grant a waiver of a cancelled application if good cause is shown.

“The application was put on hold by the project owners due to the financial crisis, the real estate market crash, and the associated pressures that coincided with those events. The market conditions lasted for an amount of time beyond the timing and extensions provided for in the city code,” Lingo wrote.

The waiver request is made, Lingo wrote, based on guidance provided by city attorney Glenn Mandalas, and following meetings with Ford, city manager Paul Eckridge and other city representatives.

Further consideration and discussion of the waiver request was placed on mayor and city council’s June 10 meeting agenda, but when the item came up, no project representative came forward to speak.

Ford, in a recent telephone interview, said the city has tried to contact Showfield representatives but they have been unresponsive. Ford said the city has adopted a revised zoning code since Showfield’s application and that could now change aspects of the project.

Surprise PLUS review

In its 2009 preliminary approval, the city agreed to allow 120-acres of the development would to be built in unincorporated Sussex County, and about 110-acres in the City of Lewes.

However, city officials recently learned Showfield representatives have requested a Preliminary Land Use Service (PLUS) review for the portion that would be built outside city limits.

Ford said city officials were not notified about Showfield’s PLUS review request.

PLUS provides for state agency review of major land use change proposals prior to submission to local governments.

The PLUS process includes reviews by all applicable state agencies at the start of the land development process. The procedures are described as ones adding value and knowledge to the process without taking over the authority of local governments to make land use decisions.

Land use change proposals are submitted to state agencies through the Office of State Planning Coordination.

A Sept. 2012 memo to Lewes Board of Public Works general manager Darrin Gordon, from Charlie O’Donnell of George Miles & Buhr, the city’s consulting engineering firm, Mike Izzo, Sussex County engineer, said Showfield representative had been comparing BPW and county impact fees.
Local governments use impact ­fee revenue to pay for expanded public facilities required to serve a development.

While actual fees have not been determined, BPW would charge about $4,060 per lot, while Sussex County estimates it would charge about $4,700 per lot.

County officials said Showfield would not earn county impact-fee credits for portions of the community fronting Gills Neck Road.

The last plan Showfield representatives and the city agreed upon called for 607 dwelling units – 301 single-family attached and 306 single-family detached homes built on 230-acres.

In 2009, Showfield representatives said the development would be completed in phases over a 10-year period, starting with 188 single-family homes.

In September 2008, a City of Lewes annexation committee concluded it would be a good idea for the city to annex the 140-acre parcel. Plans called for the city to hold one vote on annexation, zoning and maintenance agreements.
Nothing has happened with Showfield’s annexation plans for more than five years.

When asked to comment, Lingo in a Aug. 29 email wrote, "We look forward to working through the Lewes annexation process with town officials, but part of the property is currently located in Sussex County, so we want to fully explore and understand both options. Currently, we plan to move forward with the annexation."

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