Lewes should not be another Kent Island

January 4, 2018

I have been a Lewes resident for only three years, having spent the last 30 years on and around Kent Island, Md.; but I see so many parallels related to development: adequacy of roads, traffic jams, septic problems, habitat destruction, and multiple environmental issues.

As I write this, bulldozers are clearing 500 acres of field and forest to build 1,100 homes within 300 feet of Macum Creek leading to the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay. For nearly nine months of the year many local residents are confined to their homes on weekends due to traffic jams. If you have a medical emergency, you better hope the Medevac is available.

Lately, the most popular bumper sticker says "Welcome to Kent Island; Now Go Home." No matter that the county commissioners are frequently voted out of office over many years; the development interests always prevailed.

In spite of my Maryland experience I remain hopeful that the right decisions will be made by the county, state and local interests with respect to land preservation on and around New Road and beyond; while also respecting the financial interests of the Groome property owners.

All who travel New Road are familiar with the frequent flooding from Canary Creek making the road sometimes impassable.

Not everyone, however, is aware of the severe hydraulic pressure caused by a high water table in the area. This hydraulic pressure has been known to crack foundations. The potential damage from 1,500 homes built on environmentally fragile land adjacent to the Great Marsh is beyond calculation.

There is not enough state and federal monies to pre-mitigate the known hazards of road construction, flood control, environmental damage, water table hydrology, etc.

You can bet the developers will be given a huge break on these costs. On Kent Island the developer donated $1 million to build a new fire house. Not a bad downpayment on what will be in excess of a $500 million development.

Many representatives of the people who get to pass judgment on these issues are convinced that they are doing good by sacrificing the land to increase tax receipts. That equation needs to be reversed. Our representatives need to be patriots to protect the land.

According to publicly available information, the Delaware Department of Agriculture Lands Preservation Foundation founded in 1996 has preserved 35 percent of Kent County farmland, 20 percent of New Castle, and only 15 percent of Sussex County. Isn't it time that Sussex got its fair share?

I know good people are working behind the scenes to make the right things happen, but good intentions and good efforts are meaningless without good results. Let's make 2018 the year that Sussex County gets a good result.

Charles Wachsmuth


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