Residents are moving into development in Bridgeville

By Ronald MacArthur

With the dust flying and construction taking place at a rapid pace, the new Heritage Shores development in Bridgeville is beginning to take shape. When fully developed, Heritage Shores will more than double the size of the town with a current population of 1,436. The developers have plans to construct 2,000 new homes in Heritage Shores in eight phases bringing in 3,500 to 4,000 new people to the town over the next decade. And according to Joe Conaway, the president of the town commission, the developers, Allen & Rocks, are looking at another 700 acres south of the current development for another 2,000 homes. But that is in the future. "It will all be determined by the people of Bridgeville," Conaway said. The builders are Lennar and Providence of Brookfield Homes, two of the largest home builders on the East Coast. If the new section is approved, Conaway said that 142 acres will be set aside for a town park and that at least half of the homes will be sold on the open market and not be restricted to seniors. According to Bonnie Walls, who has been town manager for two years, the first people starting moving into Heritage Shores this summer. "They told us that they can't get over the friendliness of the people here," she said. She is part of a welcoming committee who visits new people who move to Heritage Shores. Conaway said that the homes start at $280,000 and so far 88 building permits have been issued and seven families are currently calling Heritage Shores their new home. He said that the developer plans to build 300 homes a year. Most of the first 2,000 homes to be built will be occupied by "active seniors," those who are 55 years of age and older. Conaway said that phase six, or about 200 homes, will be placed on the open market for families. Even before the first shovel of dirt was turned over, the community was named the Best Active Adult Community in the Country by the National Council on Senior Housing. People who live in the new development are in a special tax district and pay Bridgeville city taxes as well as an additional tax of between $1,600 and $2,400, according to Conaway. The special tax district was established to help recover some of the costs of infrastructure added to the town's system to support the community. The development (one of the largest in the county), located on U.S. 13 on the southern edge of the town, encompasses 800 acres and will be built over the next eight to 10 years in eight phases. It includes an Arthur Hill 18-hole championship golf course (set to open in time for next year's Apple-Scrapple Festival in October) with all of the amenities. The 20,000 square foot clubhouse will feature a ballroom, dining rooms, lounge, billiards and card room, fitness center and indoor pool. There will also be an outdoor pool and tennis courts as well as walking trails. Walls said that most people in the small town welcomed the project with open arms. "Now even those who were hesitant have been able to go out there and see the quality of the homes and have been reassured that this is a great project," Walls said.

Impact on town is evident
Walls calls the impact of the development on the town huge. She said she makes a habit of going out to the project every Friday afternoon to check on the progress. "All I can really say is unbelievable. Homes are selling,; work is progressing on the clubhouse - it's a wonderful project. It's a positive project for Bridgeville," she said. The impact has been immediate on Bridgeville and will continue to have an impact through the coming years. Already, the town is beginning to feel growing pains. The town staff of 12 is working hard to keep up, according to Walls. "Yes, there are legitimate concerns about city staff and even the space in the town office," she said. Walls said that the development has already had positive impacts on the town. Because of the expansion of the town, Walls said the following has taken place, or will take place soon: Three new police officers will be added to the staff when they graduate from the academy.

A new street sweeper has been purchased.
Additional space has been added to the public works department. Upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant and the addition of a new spray irrigation system will begin in 2006. She added that the list will continue to grow as the project grows. Walls said that because of the influx of people in the new development, she feels confident that other developers will be attracted to the area, especially along the U.S. 13 corridor. She is especially aiming her comments at retail developers. "I get inquiries every week about parcels of land," she said. "There are a lot of commercial people interested in land in and around Bridgeville." At a recent town commission meeting, it was announced that the Sonic restaurant chain was building a restaurant at the location of the old Wawa on U.S. 13 (it's not in Bridgeville city limits at the current time). Walls feels that this only the beginning of a boom in retail development in and around Bridgeville, which is a direct offshoot of the Heritage Shores development becoming part of the town. Conaway added that the commercial zone at the intersection of U.S. 13 and Rt. 404 is a hot commodity right now. Planned for the area is the Lennar (one of the builders in Heritage Shores) regional headquarters, a new food store, a 5,000 square foot Nanticoke Health Services facility and even the possibility of a motel, according to Conaway. There is a sign at the edge of Heritage Shores announcing a 400,000 square foot retail development called Heritage Shores Village Center to be built by KLNB Retail. "We have been able to get much for the town because of the development that would have only been a dream in the past," Conaway said. At the top of that list right now is a new 10,000 square foot library for the town. At the beginning of the negotiations for the Heritage Shores project, Conaway said, the idea of a new library was discussed. The developers have donated the land for the new facility as well as $700,000 that will be matched by the state. In addition, the town collects $100 for the fire department and $100 for the library from each building permit for Heritage Shores. The developers have also committed to pave two roads for the town to serve the new library and also a road to serve the athletic fields and the Little League fields. "So far we have been satisfied. Things are moving in the right direction," Conaway said. "But our lifestyle in Bridgeville hasn't changed except that the price of homes and land has escalated thanks to the new development," he added. Conaway said that another benefit to the town is that eventually taxes will decrease. "As we add more homes to the assessment roles, assessments will go up and at some point, we will be able to cut our tax rate," he said.

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