Harbor Point wins preliminary approval

Commissioners impose 21 conditions on Lewes subdivision
The conceptual plan for Harbor Point shows 69 single-family lots on a 108-acre parcel just outside Lewes. BY NICK ROTH
August 22, 2014

Harbor Point, a major subdivision proposed just outside Lewes, has won preliminary approval from the city's planning commission.

Commissioner's voted 6-0 Aug. 20 in favor of moving the 69-lot development on to the next phase of review, but not before imposing 21 conditions on the project.

Developer Jack Lingo Asset Management must address numerous concerns, from flood mitigation and buffers to archaeological studies and street connections with the neighboring Canary Creek community.

The developer is seeking to build the subdivision on 108.75 acres of land north of Canary Creek off the new Park Road. The property is bordered by wetlands and the Great Marsh on three sides, which concerned many residents and city officials.

“I believe that those conditions will help make this a better and more viable development if it proceeds,” said Chairman Mike Mahaffie. “There are many, many steps between now and final approval, and they will be as exhaustive as this process has been, and they should be. This is a very important part of our city.”

Vice Chair Kay Carnahan said she hopes the conditions accompanying approval will result in a development everyone is comfortable with.

“We certainly have heard everyone's angst, concerns, fears, and I agree that it is a fairly uninspired application, and I hope that all of these conditions help improve it,” she said.

The land where Harbor Point is to be built lies in Sussex County's jurisdiction. Commissioner Barbara Vaughan expressed her reluctance to move forward with the project, but voted affirmatively for fear the developer would withdraw the application and submit it to the county instead, leaving the city with no control whatsoever in the planning process.

“In this case, I feel we have been between a rock and a hard place,” she said. “This is a difficult project to be enthusiastic about, but the prospect of the county approving it without any considerations being put on the development is not something I would like to anticipate.”

Earlier this month, the county planning and zoning commission approved Showfield, a 166-lot development that will be built just outside Lewes on Gills Neck Road. Various Lewes committees and commissions worked with the developer over many years to annex land and build the project within the city, but the housing downturn halted progress. Earlier this summer, plans for Showfield were submitted to county officials, and the planning and zoning commission quickly granted approval.

Commissioner Nina Cannata was also clear she was dissatisfied with the development, but despite her many reservations she also voted in favor in order to maintain control.

“The fact that there are these provisions, conditions makes me feel somewhat better, but I have to say I wish we were never presented with this,” she said.

Commissioner Joe Hoechner was more positive about the addition of Harbor Point to Lewes. He said the conversion from farmland to residential use will eliminate herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer and stop them from entering the Great Marsh. From a financial perspective, he said, the city will see a nice windfall.

“Both the city and BPW will realize significant income,” he said. “This will be a very sustainable project for the city's finances.”

With preliminary consent out of the way, the developer will begin work on more technical plans for Harbor Point. Meetings with the planning commission will continue as the developer works toward gaining final approval.

Highland Heights vote expected Sept. 9

The Lewes Planning Commission also met Aug. 20 to discuss preliminary consent for the proposed Highland Heights major subdivision. While no decisions were made, commissioners had a dialogue with representatives of Jack Lingo Asset Management and its development team regarding the bigger issues raised over the last few months. Some of the topics included a remedy for a longstanding problem with a drainage tax ditch, the proposed cul-de-sac design, connections to neighboring communities and the anticipated homeowner's association budget.

The developer is proposing to build a 34-lot community in a wooded area between West Fourth Street and Seagull Drive. The planning commission has 90 days from a public hearing on the subdivision to make a decision. That period ends Sept. 16. The commission will next meet to discuss Highland Heights Tuesday, Sept. 9, when they expect to vote.

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