Sussex implored to take action on clear-cutting

February 24, 2023

The following letter was read into the record at the Feb. 21 Sussex County Council meeting with a copy provided to the Cape Gazette for publication. 

I live in Tidewater Landing on Robinsonville Road in Lewes. I’m here to add my voice to the discussion about the complete clear-cutting destruction of forests by Sussex County developers. 

First, let me begin with Tidewater Landing. Due to the extensive tree clearing done by our developer, the residents were initially left with more than 40 barren open space lots scattered among the 195 homes in our community. The developer finally agreed to plant grass and some trees on these lots, which were wooded prior to being clear-cut. Additionally, in 2022, our HOA received a $4,300 grant from the state to plant 120 saplings. The state was willing to replace the clear-cut trees. Hopefully, it seems as backwards and absurd to you as it does to our residents. You can do something about this!

Second, regarding Brentwood, formerly Coral Lakes. It has made me sick to watch and hear the daily clear-cutting of trees, which began mid-December and continues to this day, across the street from Tidewater Landing. I was horrified to watch the video Jill Hicks played for council Feb. 7 of the destruction of trees next to her property, ignoring the buffers promised in the development plan. You can do something about this!

Third, regarding Chase Oaks, next door to Tidewater Landing. Its approved development plan called for a 20-foot treed buffer between Chase Oaks and Tidewater Landing within 18 months of development start. Yet shortly after the start, we watched as they bulldozed the mature trees that already formed part of that natural buffer. When 18 months passed with no new planting occurring, I contacted Sussex County Planning & Zoning, which committed to following up come spring. You can do something about this!

I want to end with urging the council members to read “The Hidden Life of Trees – What They Feel and How They Communicate.” It will truly make you understand the impact of this clear-cutting to Sussex County and all of its inhabitants.

Here is a short excerpt: “The most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are. The trees in a forest care for each other. A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a web of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods. The reason trees share food and communicate is that they need each other. It takes a forest to create a microclimate suitable for tree growth and sustenance. So, it is not surprising that isolated trees have far shorter lives than those living connected together in forests.”

The house is burning! You need to put out the fire! You are responsible to do something about this! Please modify ordinances around developer tree clearing before it is too late for Sussex County and all who live here. 

Susan Anderheggen


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