Letter to the Editor: Latest ‘Hudson shuffle’ will lead to too much congestion


Hudson developers are at it again.

Over the past few years, these developers and their lawyers have shuffled beyond the intention of Sussex County codes (e.g., Fairfield Inn & Suites Rehoboth Beach’s building height, Hudson Fields’ unlimited “special events,” Five Points CVS on residential property). The latest Hudson shuffle, Chappell Farms, is the most egregious of all, at least for now!

Hudson, through its attorney, is asking County Council to interpret the “density calculation” of the code in a completely different manner than it has been interpreted and employed by other developers since the code was adopted in the 1970s. This interpretation, if voted on favorably, will likely be the catalyst that serves to irrevocably change Sussex County’s future character.

Given the makeup of the current County Council, it is not clear there is the fortitude to give the code greater clarity now to stop an expansive legal interpretation for density calculation that will serve not only to enrich the Hudson developers, but also all developers at the expense of the remainder of us left to bear the brunt of overcrowding.

Interpreting that density can be calculated using the entire site, then stacking housing units on a small portion of the site, while developing every other square inch of the rest of the site, can only be perceived as greed. The county has a density calculation in its code that is very generous and has been in continuous use by developers since its inception, as it provides a relatively balanced development of the community.

It is noted that the Hudsons have proclaimed their community outreach and community concern over generations; however, they failed to offer any workforce housing in their request for increased density. This, while the county has a program that allows for increased density if the developers dedicate a certain number of the units to workforce or affordable housing. Additionally, the county has a bonus-density program, in which the developers pay a set amount per additional housing unit and that money is dedicated to the purchase of open space that helps to preserve the environment and reduce community congestion.

Neither of these programs was mentioned by these community-minded, third-generation owners of inherited land. Their proclamation that this site is the “correct site” for increased density because of the Department of Transportation interchange improvement is truly delusive because the traffic-impact study (TIS) clearly shows differently. The perceived “acceptability” of increased density was based merely on DOT improvements of the intersections around the development. The rural roads leading to and from this overdeveloped site will be quite adversely affected, and DOT has no plans for updating them.

One can anticipate that many developers are hoping for a positive vote on this application because they, too, want to be able to use the Hudson shuffle on their future developments. For example, using this same precedence-setting density calculation, Hudson Fields could have a density approximating the town of Milton.

The two new members of council must recuse themselves from voting actions on the Chappell Farm project for their connections to large developers. The Chappell Farm decision lies most properly with the three senior councilmen. Isn’t the council concerned with road congestion that comes along with increased density or is density “owed” to the developers who appear to rule this county?

Luke 12:48 (New International Version): “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” In this case, to whom does this scenario refer, the Hudsons or Sussex County Council?

Craig Wood