Lewes panel recommends Point Farm annexation

Parcel might contain early burial sites
Lewes City Councilmen Ted Becker, left, and Fred Beaufait, served on the Point Farm Annexation Committee, which is recommending the city annex the 108-acre parcel off New Road. The committee reminded the public its charge was specifically to determine whether annexing the site would be good for the city, not Point Farm’s design or building details. BY HENRY J. EVANS JR.
October 29, 2013

Lewes’ Point Farm Annexation Committee has recommended in favor of annexing a 108-acre parcel adjacent to Great Marsh.

In September, Lewes Mayor Jim Ford appointed City Council members Fred Beaufait, Ted Becker, Bonnie Osler and Dennis Reardon to serve on the panel, which announced its decision at the committee's  Oct. 16 meeting.

Panel subcommittees concluded it would be advantageous for the city to annex the parcel because the community posed no potential impact on city services, utilities, finance or zoning.

“We’re going to end up in a pretty good situation,” Becker said about tax revenue the city would collect.

The proposed development is adjacent to the Canary Creek subdivision. Access to Point Farm would be via New Road and what is known as the University of Delaware’s old Research Park Road.

The panel found the new community would not overtax police and fire departments nor affect services such as trash collection.

The Lewes Board of Public Works is prepared to meet the development’s water, sewer and electricity needs, and it wants more customers.

The city would, however, need to amend its zoning ordinance because there is no classification for the 69 single-family homes on 1- to 2-acre lots the development would feature.

Becker said the city has hired a consultant to evaluate how the new classification might be developed.

Ring Lardner, an engineer with Davis, Bowen & Fridel, representing project owner Lingo Assets Management, said an application also has been filed seeking permission to develop the community in unincorporated Sussex County.

The county application would not be acted upon unless the city denied annexation, Lardner said.

David and Maryanne Ennis, members of community-based Citizens Advocating a Livable Lewes, said the organization has not taken a position for or against the project, but it has several concerns.

The Ennis’ requested the city delay its final annexation decision until after a through archaeological investigation. They said not only would possible archeological sites on Point Farm property be disturbed, but sites on an adjacent property might also be compromised.

The Ennis’ said CALL is also concerned the city would allow development close to the Great Marsh and allow homes in an area threatened by sea level-rise.

Jules Jackson, a local indigenous-rights activist, said documentation of a prehistoric archaeological site on the Point Farm property does exist, even though the record from the Preliminary Land Use Survey does not reflect it.

Jackson gave the committee a copy of an April 2013 email addressed to C. Daniel Parsons, Sussex County Historic Preservation Planner, from Alice Guerrant, an historic archaeologist with the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs Research Center.

The site was tested in 1959, Guerrant wrote, and for some reason the data had been scratched out of the research report on file.

A staff member remembered the report and tracked down a published article, but this was after the PLUS meeting.

Guerrant wrote archeologists were able to tell PLUS officials “that there is a high probability of an archeological site on the Point Farm parcel.”

“The thing that worries me most is that there was prehistoric burial on the Russell Site (on Point Farm), which is just the other side of the hedgerow, toward New Road. So the environmental conditions are right for preservation, and there’s every chance that there could be burials on Point Farm,” Guerrant wrote.

Jackson asked the panel to require the developer to be respectful of the site. “The remains would be my family,” said Jackson, a Nanticoke Indian.

The panel said Jackson’s and the Ennis’ concerns must be remembered, but none of those issues have bearing on annexation.

The panel will submit its findings to Mayor and City Council for action at its next meeting or, if needed, schedule another meeting.

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