The Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission voted Aug. 22 to recommend approval of a change of zone and a conditional use for a 628-lot RV park and campground along Cedar Grove Road near Lewes.
The commissioners voted 4-1 to recommend that Sussex County Council approve Jack Lingo Asset Management's applications, paving way for the Love Creek RV Resort and Campground on a 162-acre parcel.
Voting against the application was Commissioner Rodney Smith, who said the location was not appropriate for the planned park. Voting in favor of recommendation were commissioners Mike Johnson, Chairman Bob Wheatley, Marty Ross and I.G. Burton.
Sussex County Council will put the matter on a future agenda for a final vote. Council does not meet again until Tuesday, Sept. 10; the agenda for that meeting will not be posted until Wednesday, Sept. 4.
Ross read a detailed analysis of each issue discussed by the opposition. He said there was no evidence that showed nearby property values would be decreased, and in fact he said, testimony was presented that campgrounds and residential areas can co-exist.
On the issue of traffic, one of the opponent's major concerns, Ross said he understood residents' frustrations. “But DelDOT is the traffic czar, and they accept this plan,” he said.
He also downplayed the environmental effect of the proposed project, as highlighted in a letter against development along Love Creek from Department of Natural Resources and Enviromental Control Secretary Colin O'Mara. “The applicants now have a better plan that far exceeds all of the minimum environmental requirements,” he said.
Opponents of the proposed park met for a rally on The Circle in Georgetown prior to the commission meeting. They later filled the meeting room to capacity. “It's hard to imagine how they can ignore all of the factual information we put before them,” said Paul Hammesfahr. “An RV park is fine; it's the location that is the problem. It's out of character with the area.”
“We were able to get 1,254 signatures on petitions against this during the winter months,” Bill Baydella told the crowd. “There is no way they can vote for this thing.”
Four of the five commissioners did not agree. Johnson and Burton said they were impressed by the developers' quick response to amend campground plans to accommodate residents' concerns. Johnson said in the eight years he has been on the commission, he has never seen a developer so amiable to provide extra forested buffers to protect wetlands.
In making the motion to recommend approval, Johnson said the proposed project complies with the county's comprehensive plan update to promote tourism and economic development. He said there are multiple roadways to the parcel and road improvements along Cedar Grove Road are in the plans.
Johnson said the parcel is zoned to allow the construction of up to 513 homes. “This project would not have a more significant impact than a use for home sites and would generate less traffic than a project with single-family homes,” he said, adding that the Delaware Department of Transportation had no objection to the applications.
Johnson read a long list of conditions for council to consider. Those included a clear delineation of all wetlands; a plan for additional forested buffers on the revised site plan; plans for a DART bus stop; hours of operation from March 15 to Nov. 15; no winter storage on campsites; development of an emergency evacuation plan with an emergency entrance available along Ward Road; and a requirement that Welches Pond be off limits to recreation.
A revised site plan must be reviewed and approved by the commission.
Smith was the only commissioner opposed to the applications. “This is not the wisest spot to locate an RV park. And I don't like that we are losing the GR zoning for affordable housing. Where will we recreate it?” he asked.
Organizers of the opposition said they will not give up and will continue their effort to block the proposed park. “We still have another chance, we are not down yet,” Hammesfahr said after the meeting.