Setting record straight on map amendment

January 21, 2022

I am a co-owner of one of the parcels under consideration for re-inclusion in the coastal area designation along Route 1 by Cave Neck Road.

I want to clear up some misconceptions. I have seen in the public comments where various opponents of the proposed amendment refer to the property owners as "developers," "speculators" or "new owners" who want to turn a quick profit. While I can't speak for the owners of the other parcels – some owners are family members, while one parcel owner is completely unknown to me – I believe it is important for the public to know that these characterizations as to my property are false. We are not new owners nor are we developers. This land has belonged to my family for hundreds of years. We, and our family members who own several of the other parcels, came to own the property like many Sussex County families: we inherited it through multiple generations of Delawareans who have been good stewards of the land. 

A few additional notes of clarification:

Our property had been in a growth zone for many years under the prior comprehensive plan, but the current plan changed that arbitrarily after the public comment period was closed. This does not seem fair to me. 

Additionally, it should be known that DelDOT has planned a major highway project that would condemn a large portion of our property and put a new service road right through the middle of it. It’s unclear what DelDOT’s project means for what we can do with the property in the future. However, one thing is for sure: There won't be much land left for farming, and being on a major highway does not seem appealing for low-density residential housing. 

I hope the coastal area designation will allow us flexibility to do something decent with the remainder of the property. It is my understanding that if we ever wanted to develop anything (which, to be clear, we have no current plans to do, and we didn't develop it before, even when we were in a growth zone), we will still have to go through the rezoning and site-plan process.

Finally, it’s concerning that the Office of State Planning Coordination is opposed to the amendment when they admit many of their facts – and some very critical facts, such as sewer and water availability and proximity to wetlands – are just plain wrong, and those incorrect facts were frequently repeated in the negative public comments. For example, how can they say we are in a low-priority road investment area when DelDOT is about to take the land through eminent domain and construct major roads literally on top of and through our property? The state gets a major new highway and we are left some oddly shaped chunks of difficult-to-access land.

I have seen a lot of changes in Sussex County through the years, some of which I thought were good and some bad. Now that I am reluctantly caught up in those changes, I’m simply asking that we, as long-standing, local owners, be allowed to have flexibility in the future use of our family property now that DelDOT’s massive project will forever change the character of it.

Dorothy Robinson
Property owner
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