Sussex must take action on New Road

October 20, 2017

As a resident of the north end of the City of Lewes who will be impacted by the development of New Road, I would like to thank J.G Townsend Jr. & Co. for their generous purchase offer to the Groome United Methodist Church to preserve the 150 acres the church owns on New Road.

Thanks also go out the mediators, including Sussex County Councilman I.G. Burton and Sen. Ernie Lopez, for their efforts to facilitate this deal.

Unfortunately, it seems that the church's representative, Rev. Will Crossan III, feels it is in their best interest to sell this large parcel of undeveloped land to a developer. It is certainly not in the best interest of greater Lewes, or its inhabitants.

The north end of town and the New Road corridor abut the environmentally sensitive Great Marsh. We must actively try to preserve this area before it is too late. Anyone who regulary travels New Road sees Canary Creek overflowing onto the roadway and the saturated fields along New Road swollen with water during every storm. This is the recharge area for the Great Marsh. Where will the water go if these fields are developed? How will the construction of 300 additional homes, along with the accompanying paved surfaces, impact the present problem?

The runoff swales at the Reserve at Pilottown already overflow during storms, and the swales between Harborview and Hoornkill Roads fill too. The Great Marsh overflows and floods Pilottown Road regularly. Even though this proposed development is out of the city in a less populous area, it is bound to impact all residents in the north end of Lewes.

Water does not respect streets or boundaries. It will overtake whatever is in its path. Where will the water go during 50- and 100-year storms? It is not a question of if. It is a question of when.

The time to speak up is now. We cannot sit and watch our last open space east of Route 1 in Lewes become the new Gills Neck Road with housing development after housing development. I urge the citizens of Lewes to consider the environmental impact of this development and the floodgate of development it could usher in.

We live near the water and need to understand and be seriously concerned about the impact of construction along the Great Marsh. We cannot wait until the area is developed and we find out that the water has nowhere to go, causing minor flooding events to escalate into major flooding events.

While I respect that the church is a property owner and has the right to sell their land to any party they choose, I also hope that they might reconsider their decision.

If not, I do hope that the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission considers the environmental impact when the developer seeks approval to build on these lands. I also hope that area residents will actively speak out to the commission and be part of the process.

Debra Evalds


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