Don't follow in New Jersey's footsteps

June 27, 2014

I am writing in support of Mr. Charles Lee's letter ("Beg to differ on Overbrook Town Center"). I read Mr. Lee's letter in the June 23 Cape Gazette. I took Mr. Lee's advice and wrote to my district representative on the Sussex County Council and shared my concerns about Overbrook Town Center being approved.

I moved to Lewes in October 2013. Prior to moving to Delaware, except for four years in the Navy, I've always resided in New Jersey. Taxation was not the only reason I left New Jersey. If I had to list the number one reason I left, it would be quality of life.

I am seeing similarities between New Jersey 25 years ago and present-day Delaware in the areas of building and development. Central New Jersey was primarily farms and open spaces 25 years ago. Present day Sussex County reminds me of what New Jersey once looked like.

Unfortunately, New Jersey allowed building and development to run amok for the past 25 years. Those farms and open spaces are gone. Traffic is so bad in Central New Jersey, in comparison, it would make the Coastal Highway look like a speedway on summer weekends. Crime increased significantly. Commute times increased due to traffic and insignificant infrastructure planning and development (lack of funds). What was once special and unique about the area is gone. It is now the same as any other overcrowded, over developed, poorly planned community easily found throughout the "Garden State."

My point? Building and development are not necessarily evil. They are necessary to keep communities healthy and alive. However, I kindly suggest that before an approval is given for the Overbrook Town Center, a thorough analysis of its entire impact to the environment and to quality of life be done.

I think some of those who support this project think an overpass (Cave Neck Road) will address all issues and potential problems. Think of the impact this center will have not only to Route 1 and Cave Neck. Imagine traffic on the Lewes-Georgetown Highway. Traffic on local roads such as Sweetbriar, Log Cabin Road, Hudson Road and other roads that would give shoppers access to the Center via Cave Neck Road.

Please also consider the center's neighbors. Think of the proximity between the center and The Great Marsh, home to numerous bird species, trees and floral indigenous to Delaware. Can we afford the risk of losing some, all of them due to traffic, noise and pollution from the center?

Has the economy improved to such a state that we can be guaranteed all 800,000 square feet of retail space will be leased and occupied? Will local merchants on Route 1 close due to an inability to compete with a regional shopping center? I am told many stores closed when Tanger Outlets opened.

Quality of life. Please keep that in focus when discussing the Overbrook Town Center. Don't hesitate to look closely at New Jersey to avoid the costly mistakes it has made these past 25 years. A recent poll said that 57 percent of New Jersey's residents, if they could, would leave New Jersey. Consider Delaware's future and ask yourself, "What would happen if 57 percent of tax payers left Sussex County?

Joan Nisler


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