Homeowners in this resort community are planning another fight to block high-rise construction along a neighboring seashore.
A zoning change made by the Sussex County Council in December permits the long-planned construction of Sea Colony North, the latest of the large Sea Colony developments of Carl M. Freeman Associates, to begin on a narrow strand of seashore two miles north of of here.
Plans are to build 432 apartments in a high-rise or a complex about half the size of the $60 million Sea Colony development south of Bethany. That project has eight high-rises, several of them 14 stories high, with nearly 1,000 apartments. Construction on the ninth high-rise will start this year.
The planned construction to the north of the town, along a narrow beach that is caught precariously between bay and sea is too dense, in the view of some conservationists, neighboring communities and most town councils from Fenwick Island to Rehoboth.
They point out that the beach is slowly building back a dune line, following 20 years of devastating winter storms. The area is just south of Indian River Inlet and state parklands.
Since 1972, plans to develop this area have been opposed in hearings and in court. Bethesda attorney William S. Green, who has a summer place at nearby Tower Shores, has prepared a suit again on behalf of six property owners here and an environmental group, Save Our Seashores.
Green fought a similar rezoning action by the county that favored Sea Colony North in 1972 and won a reversal in the courts. The judge at that time charged the council with being "arbitrary and capricious."
That finding was upheld by the state's Supreme Court. The county has since adopted a new land use plan and granted Freeman the right to build. Green plans to fight the development on the grounds that the area has no sewer, a violation of local regulations, and that the council has made procedural errors.
Without a central sewer system, such high-rise, high-density construction would violate the coastal zoning plan, Green contends.
Carl M. Freeman Associates' executive vice president, Norman Dreyfuss, said the firm is presently getting the necessary approvals and permits to build but is not planning to break ground for a year.
Dreyfuss said the plans conform to the coastal land use plans adopted by the Sussex County Council several years ago. He said Freeman plans to build a sewage treatment plant for the development that will be state-monitored.