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Neighbors raise concerns over new Showfield development

Residents oppose shortcut through their community
April 1, 2019

Story Location:
209 Monroe Ave
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

Neighbors of a proposed 86-lot development along Freeman Highway in Lewes do not want road connections from the new development through their communities.

Residents from Showfield and Bay Breeze raised traffic and safety concerns if the new community, Showfield City, is connected to their neighborhoods. The two Showfield developments are separate projects – one is in Sussex County, the other is in Lewes – but the developer has proposed to connect the communities using Monroe Avenue.

Willie Coffeey, who is building a home in Showfield and is a member of the homeowners association board, says a road connection would create a shortcut to downtown Lewes for residents of all Gills Neck Road developments.

“What we’re concerned about, and really causes a tremendous amount of stress among the people who own property, is the amount of traffic that this is going to create through our community,” he said. “That’s going to make it very dangerous, lower our property values, and it will be an unpleasant place to live.”

He said his community’s roads are privately owned and maintained, whereas the developers of the Showfield City community, expected to be called White’s Pond Meadows, intend to turn the roads over to the city for public use.

“By hooking up to our development, it makes our streets just as public,” Coffeey said.

He also pointed to a future phase of Showfield City that the developer included in his application to Lewes. While not currently under consideration by city officials, the next phase shows an additional 44 lots may be added to Showfield City on the opposite side of the 16-acre White’s Pond, which borders the subdivision to the northeast. The access to the second phase is via Monroe Avenue and through the Showfield county community. There are no direct connections to the first phase or to Gills Neck Road, which borders the potential second phase to the northeast. The developer’s engineer, Ring Lardner of Davis, Bowen and Friedel, said the second phase is subject to change. In its current iteration, the second phase does not show clubhouse facilities or other amenities.

Coffeey said he assumes residents of the second phase will have access to the clubhouse and amenities that will be built as part of the first phase. And with no direct road connection between the two phases, he said, residents will have to drive through his community to access the clubhouse.

“A lot of people have invested a lot of money in this community, and to have it destroyed so they could have a connection between their two [phases] for a clubhouse … there’s absolutely no other reason to do that,” Coffeey said.

Residents of Bay Breeze have similar concerns. While the existing plans do not show a road connection to their community, homeowners association President Carolyn Claypoole said it’s very clearly possible, as one of the proposed community’s streets lines up directly with Inlet Place, a cul-de-sac in Bay Breeze.

Lardner said there are no plans to link the two communities.

Claypoole urged commissioners not to allow or recommend a connection. “People, like water, seek the path of least resistance,” she said. “The path of least resistance on Freeman Highway is going to be cutting through Showfield, across Inlet Place and into Bay Breeze.”

The alternate route would send traffic to a uniquely designed, highly dangerous intersection near the split of Freeman Highway and Kings Highway, she said. “It’s an accident waiting to happen,” she said.

Traffic light may be added

Savannah Edwards, the city’s planning consultant from Millsboro-based AECOM, said the applicant has discussed with the Delaware Department of Transportation and Delaware River and Bay Authority the possible need for a traffic signal at Monroe Avenue and Freeman Highway.

A traffic operational analysis will determine if a light is needed. It will study weekday morning, weekday evening and summer Saturday peak traffic under existing conditions and project traffic in 2025 with this development and without this development.

Lardner said DRBA, which owns Freeman Highway, has not taken a formal position on a traffic signal. However, Planning Commission Vice Chair Kay Carnahan said DRBA has been against a traffic signal in the past. If the study shows a signal is preferred, Lardner said, the ultimate decision will fall to the DRBA board.

Historic home demolished

In comments submitted to the Preliminary Land Use Service, the State Historic Preservation Office urged the developer to investigate a historic home on the property that was built between 1890 and 1910. Officials said there may be archaeological resources remaining. They also urged the developer to hire an archaeological consultant to review the property before any ground-disturbing activities occur.

It’s too late for the house; in November, several homes along Monroe Avenue were demolished as part of a controlled fire exercise by the Lewes Fire Department.

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend said a demolition permit was not issued.

The commission did not set a public hearing for the project. Before that happens, planning commission members will visit the property in small groups with the developer to see the site and ask questions.

 

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