The developer of Coastal Club will have until May 22, 2018, to complete mandated work providing water, sewer, streetlights and sidewalks to residents along Jimtown Road.
At its Oct. 24 meeting, Sussex County Council granted a time extension to Coastal Club LLC to complete the work, which got underway Oct. 1. The project was supposed to be completed in May of this year.
The work – paid for by the developer – is a condition of approval for the 630-unit Coastal Club subdivision along Beaver Dam Road near Lewes. The improvements were proffered by the original developer of the project dating back more than a decade because of the impact the large development would have on the small community. The improvements were made a condition of approval of a rezoning application – if Jimtown Road residents agreed to it.
Jim Fuqua, the developer's attorney, said a majority of 44 eligible voters were in favor of the improvements.
A vote was not required on the sewer-line extension because that work was scheduled as part of the Coastal Club's agreement to connect to the county's central sewer system. Residents are not required to connect to the line, but the developer will pay for hook-up costs for three years once the project is completed.
Fuqua said council required completion of the project within three years, backdated to May 23, 2014. By the time county council approved the rezoning, only 19 months remained to complete the work.
In addition, Fuqua said, the project has hit unexpected delays related to design and engineering as a result of the location of some existing homes, limited front-yard setback for pipes and sidewalks, and drainage issues.
He said normally for a project of this type, 70 feet of right of way would be required. “They've had to fit everything in with 50 feet of right of way,” the attorney said.
Jimtown Road property owner Rosalyn Allen Echol disagreed that the majority wanted improvements. She said a majority of residents signed a petition rejecting the plan.
She said wording in previous letters to residents stated the improvements must be approved by all residents and property owners. “Somewhere the word “all” was changed, and now there is more wiggle room. Somehow our voice has been taken away from us,” she said.
She said the improvements would lead to a cultural change in the small minority community. “It's what we see occurring in West Rehoboth and Belltown,” she said.
Councilman George Cole, R-Ocean View, a strong supporter of the project, said hooking into the county sewer system could represent a cost savings to residents, especially if they have a failing septic system. “Now they will have a choice,” he said.
Echol said she disagreed with Cole. Her research shows it would not be cheaper, she said.
While the the project's history dominated the discussion, county attorney Everett Moore reminded council that the only action to consider was the time-extension request. “You are not voting on its original merits,” he said.