Seaford pursuing annexation of 180 acres near Camp Road

By Tony E. Windsor

The city of Seaford has been given the green light by state and county development agencies to move forward with annexation of about 180 acres just north of the city limits. One agency, however, expressed concerns about how development of the property may impact the historic integrity of the land. During their regular meeting Tuesday, July 8, the Seaford City Council heard from both the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination. The two agencies agreed that the proposed annexation complies with the city’s development plan as laid out in its state-mandated comprehensive plan and gave their seals of approval. The land is northeast of Seaford, near US 13 and Camp Road. The land also extends to the east side of Middleford Road. In March, local businessman Jay Dolby, of Dolby and Associates Inc., an engineering consultant firm, requested that his property be annexed into the corporate municipal limits. The property includes Dolby’s farm and business and is zoned zoned agricultural and commercial. Dolby wanted it annexed as commercial and residential property. During a presentation back in March before the Seaford Mayor and Council, code enforcement officer Mike Mulvaney said that having the acreage annexed as commercial and residential fits criteria developed by the city in its comprehensive plan. In March, Dolby said he could not speak to the specifics of what his long term plans were should the property be annexed. However, he said he will develop the property in accordance with the zoning stipulations given by the city at the time of annexation. Dolby said at the time that he would like to see the lands which border US 13 be considered commercial, while the majority of the remaining acreage be considered for a residential area. Though his request seeks both R-1 (single-family dwellings) and R-2 (townhouses, etc.), Dolby said he feels the lion’s share of the land will be for single family homes. But State Planning Coordination Director Constance Holland is concerned that the historic significance of the farm land will be lost if it is developed. Holland said the Delaware Historic Preservation Office considers the Dolby property a potential historic complex. “Though the annexation itself may not harm the potential historic structures, any future development may cause adverse effects,” she said. “The state recommends that during any future development of property, the owners consider using the existing structures and plan around them, retaining or adding appropriate landscaping as buffers.” Holland said there is also a “75 percent” probability that the property contains sites of archaeological significance. “If any future ground disturbance or development takes place, the owner/developer should contact the State Historic Preservation Office to discuss ways to minimize any harm to the historic resources,” Holland said. Land that is annexed into the city is afforded services provided by the municipality including police protection and city water and sewer. Currently, the 176 acres has two private septic systems and two water wells. Mayor Dan Short appointed an annexation committee that reviewed the Dolby request. The committee was chaired by Councilwoman Pat Jones with council members Grace Peterson and Ed Butler making up the balance of the committee. The committee recommended that the request be approved. The council supported the recommendation and the city will move forward with the annexation process. This will include notifying neighboring property owners and holding an annexation election in the future.

Intersection could get camera
Also discussed during the July 8 council meeting was a proposal by the Delaware Department of Transportation for the city to install a camera at the intersection of US 13 and Sussex 534 to catch drivers running red lights. This intersection is near entrances to both the Wal-Mart Supercenter and the Seaford Village Shopping Center. According to Seaford Director of Operations Charles Anderson, the state has been conducting a survey of the most accident prone intersections. The US 13/534 intersection and the intersection at US 13 and Delaware 20 (near the Cock-n-Bull)were both targeted as high potential for accidents. However, the state has recommended the US 13/534 intersection as a priority for a camera. “Motorists often become impatient at these intersections,” Anderson said. “I think we as local drivers realize that we often have to wait quite a long time and we have to watch for oncoming traffic. But, when you are not familiar with the traffic patterns, like those motorists from out of town, there tends to be some unsafe traffic decisions.” The Seaford Council has expressed an interest in meeting with the state to discuss a possible partnership in providing a camera at the US 13/534 intersection.

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