Noble’s Pond annexation plan tabled

 

CHESWOLD –– Tuesday night’s town council meeting proved to be more heated than a typical meeting for a town of only 1,300 people.

The ruckus involved a public hearing about the annexation of the Noble’s Pond property, an item that was tabled after nearly an hour of sometimes fiery discussion.

Noble’s Pond is a 55-years-old and up retirement community owned by Eddie Evans Farms, LLC, and Regal Contractors, LLC. The community is approximately 293 acres divided into more than 800 home sites; 130 sites are currently occupied. A little less than half the acreage is included in the annexation.

If annexed, Noble’s Pond would become a part of the Town of Cheswold.

But Sam Callender, the town’s secretary and treasurer, said the changes will only affect those residents moving into the community after the annexation.

According to the mayor’s office, the owners of Noble’s Pond, Eddie Evans Farms, LLC, and Regal Contractors, LLC, first suggested the annexation in 2007 but didn’t formally submit an application until April of this year.

“No one from Regal Contractors, LLC, Eddie Evans Farms, LLC, or any employee thereof represents any residents of Noble’s Pond,” Walter Waite, a Noble’s Pond resident, said. “I think it’s safe to say that money is the driving force in this and that’s OK, I understand that. The problem is, everything else seems to be in a far off, distant second place.”

If the land becomes part of the Town of Cheswold, building permits and other fees will be collected by the town rather than Kent County.

However, county officials don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing.

“The Town of Cheswold has encountered many challenges and I think the annexation would be a tremendous source of revenue for services,” Levy Court President Brooks Banta said prior to the meeting. “I don’t see a lot of the possible negative effects coming from the annexation, which is the main opinion I’ve been hearing about.”

The source of revenue would continue to grow because, if annexed, rezoning would allow for multi-family housing, apartments and townhomes although Noble’s Pond is currently zoned only for single-family homes.

Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Cheswold, said during public comment: “Let’s make it very clear what this proposed annexation is about. First is increasing the density of housing above and beyond that approved by the county and various state agencies. Second, it is about shifting the cost and responsibility of maintaining the roads and open space to an entity other than the developer.”

But, along with more residents in Cheswold would come more responsibilities for the town such as road maintenance that would otherwise be a county expense.

“You’re potentially indebting this town for hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next couple decades and I’ve heard no discussion of that,” Rep. Paradee said. “And that is irresponsible as members of council to put this upon the next generation of town council, like what the previous generation of council did to you.”

As to other maintenance issues, much confusion surrounded which responsibilities would be taken over by the Town of Cheswold and what would be covered by Noble’s Pond’s owners. It seemed no details had been discussed between the owners and council members prior to the meeting.

“We were told we were walking into a community of single-family homes,” Marlene Tull, a four-month resident of Noble’s Pond, said at the meeting. “I’m worried that multiple family homes, apartments, whatever, will bring our property values down. Many of us, most of us have saved to come into this community and it was portrayed as paradise.”

Every person who spoke during public comment was against the annexation — and supported by the audience. Rep. Paradee received a standing ovation after he was cut off when his comments passed the five minute maximum limit.

Mayor Donald Tinari was met with cries of “let him speak” from the audience, although the representative did yield to the next speaker.

Donald Tinari

Donald Tinari

Noble’s Pond is not physically connected to the Town of Cheswold . So the annexation of the community is reliant upon the annexation of approximately 133.9 acres of farm land owned by Evans Jarrell, LLC. The Evans Jarrell property lies south of Cheswold and north of Noble’s Pond.

After the public comments, Ms. Callender motioned to pass the annexation and the motion was seconded by Sherry Lambertson.

When the second was met with outcries and commotion from the audience, Ms. Callender changed her motion to table the annexation, which again was seconded by Ms. Lambertson.

The annexation will be brought forward at the next council meeting scheduled for Sept. 8. In the meantime, Mayor Tinari, council and residents of Noble’s Pond plan to discuss more of the details and implications of the annexation.

 

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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