Residents voice concerns over proposed annexation
By Lynn R. Parks
Residents of North Front Street in Seaford are objecting to the proposed annexation of about an acre and a half of land owned by Harbor House seafood market at the corner of Stein Highway and alternate U.S. 13.
“Does anybody know what Harbor House is going to do with this property?” Samuel Adkins, 22 N. Front St., demanded during a public hearing on the annexation, held recently in front of the Seaford City Council. He was one of three residents who expressed concerns at the hearing that the market will use the land in a way that is inappropriate for a residential area.
Harbor House sits on a triangle of land formed by Front Street Extended, North Street Extended and alternate U.S. 13. The market and its warehouse are already in the city. Front Street Extended and the houses along it are not in the city limits.
The land that owners Mark Bryan and Gary Colbourne have requested be annexed is north of the market. Made up of about seven lots, it extends from Front Street Extended to North Street Extended.
Adkins and Dale Morris, 26 Front Street Extended, said that they are worried that the property will be used as a parking area for the market’s delivery trucks. “In a residential area, that would cause a safety problem,” Adkins said.
But Bryan said that he has no immediate plans for the property. “I bought the property because it is adjacent to everything I own and I didn’t want to see houses go in there, next to my business,” he said.
Bryan has cleared the property of overgrown grass and weeds and plans to plant grass it in by Nov. 15, as required by the state Division of Soil and Water Conservation. “A lot of the neighbors tell me that it looks a whole lot better than it did, with all those weeds cleaned out of there,” he said.
Bryan said that he is considerate of the people who live in homes near his market. He acknowledged that he does get complaints about trucks that use Front Street Extended to access the market, and added that if he does decide to build a warehouse on the new property that that will ease the truck traffic on Front Street Extended.
“If we build there, we could take trucks out onto North Street and be just about 100 feet from alternate 13,” he said. “That will help the traffic problem.”
During the public hearing, city manager Dolores Slatcher told residents that, with the property in the city, city codes will apply to any development on it. “If it is annexed, you can call the city code department with any complaint, and we will respond,” she said.
Councilman Ron MacArthur added that if the property is annexed, any proposed building project will have to come before the council for approval. “We have a pretty good failsafe procedure to look at projects before they happen,” he said.
When Adkins persisted in his complaint that the city was considering an annexation without knowing what the property owner intends to do with the property, Slatcher told him that annexations are decided based on the location of the land, not on anticipated projects.
“That is a sorry affair,” Adkins replied. “We are not doing planned growth and you [the members of the city council] should be ashamed.”
Adkins, retired from the Delaware National Guard and a 33-year resident of Seaford, said later that if the annexation goes through, he will sell his home. “I will move away from the Seaford area,” he said.
The annexation request will be decided by a vote of city residents. The election date was to be set at the Nov. 9 meeting.
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