Independence developer has plans for Phase 13

Residents want a construction entrance to keep traffic out of existing community
May 20, 2022

Story Location:
Indian Mission Road
Harmon’s Hill Road
Millsboro, DE 19966
United States

A proposed small subdivision which would be part of the existing Independence subdivision along Indian Mission Road between Lewes and Long Neck has created a stir among residents who would live adjacent to Phase 13 of the project.

At Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission’s May 12 meeting, residents asked that developer Ocean Atlantic be required to provide a separate construction traffic entrance off Harmons Hill Road and rectify existing development issues in the community before new construction begins. They also seek to restrict access to a connecting street until houses are occupied in the new section.

Developer Sussex Partners LLC of Rehoboth Beach has filed an application for a 36-unit single-family home subdivision on a 19-acre parcel on the north side of Harmons Hill Road with additional access from Abigail Adams Drive in the Independence community.

Independence, a 55-plus community, was approved in January 2005 for 455 single-family home lots on 333 acres. The last four vacant lots have been purchased with home construction taking place.

Jim Fuqua, the developer's attorney, said the parcel is not part of the original subdivision land. He said the developer met with the homeowners association and it was decided the best option was to purchase the property. Residents in the new area would be part of the existing HOA and have use of the existing amenities.

Included in the plans is a 20-foot landscaped buffer around the parcel and enhanced landscaping in the area along Abigail Adams Drive.

Construction entrance an issue

Richard Muti, an Abigail Adams Drive resident, said ongoing issues such as removal of a construction debris dumping area, repair of existing drainage issues and final paving of all streets should be completed.

“There are drainage and erosion issues, some of which have been ignored for more than eight years. We want the planning & zoning commission to require Ocean Atlantic to complete all remediations and improvements, including final top-coating of roadways, before it begins construction in the new area,” Muti said.

But, he said, one of the major concerns is keeping construction traffic out of the existing community.

“Overall, the developer has done a good job. But we do not want another three years of construction vehicles in our community. Why isn't a construction road on the site plan?” he asked.

“This should not be just a request, but a requirement to get approval,” he added.

Fuqua said placement of a construction traffic entrance would be up to Delaware Department of Transportation officials, and the developer would seek approval for an entrance.

“If not, the developer will restore any streets impacted. But a construction entrance is the intention of the developer,” he said.

Commissioner Kim Hoey Stevenson agreed with the residents that construction traffic should not be driving through the community and should only use Harmons Hill Road.

Ben Gordy, Ocean Atlantic senior project manager, said there has not been a conversation with DelDOT officials yet. “As soon as we get approval, we will make that application,” he said.

“I can't imagine DelDOT would not see the wisdom of that,” said Commission Chair Bob Wheatley.

Independence resident Harvey Johnson said he has little confidence in how hard the developer will work to obtain a construction entrance.

Assistant county attorney Vince Robertson said the application is treated as a separate subdivision and the developer would have to post bonds for the new phase. “This also does not extend any more time for the developer to complete work in the original development,” he said.

He said the county would send out inspectors to investigate residents' concerns.

“I'd like to know when that happens,” Johnson said.

Update from developer

Following the residents' comments, Wheatley requested that Gordy return to the podium.

He asked Gordy to take heed of what residents said and then make a good-faith effort to address their concerns.

Gordy said final paving has been completed on eight of the existing 12 phases. He said all roads in the remaining four phases should be completely paved by the end of the year.

“Can you communicate that to the HOA? It would go a long way to improving relations,” Wheatley said.

In addition, Gordy said the existing construction dump site would be cleaned up when the remaining homes are built, which should be completed soon.

He said solving a drainage problem in one section of the community may take a little more time. “We have an engineer involved to look at a way to solve this once and for all,” he said, adding work could be completed this fall.


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