Annexation requests fail by a three-to-one voter margin

By Lynn R. Parks

Seaford voters have overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to annex more than 600 acres into the city. In balloting Monday afternoon, citizens and property owners said no by a three-to-one margin to the annexation of six parcels, five of which form a 559-acre block of farmland south of Hearn's Pond that stretches from alternate U.S. 13 to Conrail Road. The sixth, 45-acre parcel is on Old Furnace Road. The vote came after a campaign by a group of Hearn's Pond-area citizens against the annexation. A flyer that members of the group handed out door-to-door in neighborhoods throughout the city and that is headed "Beware" said that the annexation could triple the city's population. Owners of four of the six parcels were requesting that their parcels be zoned for high-density residential development. Wilmington development company St. Rockland is one of the property owners. "Up to 50,000 more vehicles could be jamming your roads," the flyer said. In as statement released Tuesday morning, HAPPEN (Hearns Pond Association for its Protection, Preservation, Enhancement and Naturalization) said the vote was an instance of democracy in action. "On Sept. 18, the citizens of Seaford, in an unprecedented move, showed that democracy does, indeed, work," the group said. "HAPPEN hopes that all residents are empowered to work with the city council to develop a shared vision for the future of their community, a vision that will reflect positive growth and development in Seaford, while protecting all its positive aspects we hold dear." Brenda Stover, spokeswoman for the group, said that no one from the group would have any further comment until after the group's meeting tonight. That meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at the Seaford Museum, High Street, starting at 7 p.m. Mayor Ed Butler said Tuesday morning that he was disappointed in the vote. "Naturally, I wanted it to pass," he said. But he added that there could be important lessons in the vote. "Annexation is an important thing and maybe we should slow it down a little bit, and make sure that as we grow, we can take care of the infrastructure," he said. "The people who voted are not against growth – enough of them called to tell me that they were voting against it not to vote against growth, but to make sure that we take care of what we have." Property owners Rex Mears and Tuong Quan also expressed disappointment in the vote. "This is a sad day for the city of Seaford," said Mears. "This vote sends the signal that people in the city of Seaford are not interested in development."

Quan said that he was frustrated by HAPPEN's claim that the annexation would lead to increased traffic in town. "This would not mean congestion in the city," he said. "This would mean more money going into the city. The value of property would go up and everybody would benefit." Mears said that welcoming into town a developer like St. Rockland is a "no-brainer." He added, "They were willing to work with the city. After the annexation, there would have been plenty of time for dialogue." Mears said he did not know what the property owners will do. "There is always plan B," he said. "I can tell you that if a developer buys a piece of property, he's not going to let it sit idle."

The properties that were up for annexation were:

  • 45 acres on Old Furnace Road, owned by Nanette Corey, Bridgeville. Corey was requesting that the land be zoned for residential development.
  • 193 acres on Bridgeville Highway (alternate U.S. 13), owned by Ray S. Mears and Sons, Seaford. Mears was requesting that the land be zoned for light commercial development and high-density residential development.
  • 137 acres at Hearn's Pond Road and Bridgeville Highway, owned by St. Rockland and Company, Wilmington. Requested zoning was for light commercial and high-density residential development.
  • 46 acres on Bridgeville Highway, 150 feet south of Garden Lane, owned by Morris Properties, Wilmington. Requested zoning was for light commercial and high-density residential development.
  • 141 acres on Hearn's Pond Road, owned by Tuong T. Quan, Seaford. Quan was requesting that the land be zoned for high-density residential development.
  • 42 acres on Speck Road, owned by Steven and Cynthia Yingling, Glen Rock, Pa. The Yinglings were requesting that the land be zoned for light industrial development.

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