Fairfield residents criticize proposal
Couple asking city to annex wooded lot
A wooded lot adjacent to Fairfield may soon be annexed into the city of Newark and subdivided, as a Wilmington couple plans to purchase the land and build a home there.
The planning commission unanimously recommended council approve the annexation during an emotional hearing in which neighbors expressed concern about the impact on their properties and the animals that call the woods home.
The issue revolves around a 5.5-acre property at 0 Darien
Road. Currently part of Covered Bridge Farms in New Castle County, the land is one of three adjoining parcels that are owned by the estate of Howard Arnold. Arnold and his wife, Anna, had a house on one parcel and left the rest of the land, including the 5.5 acres in question, as woods.
David and Eileen Hall are seeking to buy the land and build their home on 4.25 acres. They would also leave 1.25 acres for the future construction of a second singlefamily home.
“It’s a beautiful site,” David Hall said. “It met our needs in so many different ways.”
Planning Director Maureen Feeney Roser said the Halls asked the city to annex the property so they would have access to the city’s sewer system.
Hall said building his house and a driveway running from Darien Road in Fairfield would require crews to cut down approximately 65 of the nearly 400 trees on the site. However, he noted that he consulted with arborists to design his plans to affect as few trees as possible.
“What was really important to us was how this site could be preserved as much as possible,” Hall said, adding, “We’re trying to preserve the beauty of the land.”
However, some of the neighbors argued that the best way to pre- serve the beauty of the land is to not develop it.
“People who live in Fairfield feel that development of this property would severely impact our quality of life, not to mention the value of our properties,” Donald Fogg, whose Stamford Drive home backs up to the property, told the planning commission.
Fogg noted that when he looks out his windows, he can see trees and flowers on the property.
“I cringe to think my view of the future is the remembrance of trees that are now gone and an asphalt driveway,” he said.
Patricia Gordon, who also lives on Stamford Drive adjacent to the property, added that she’s seen foxes, red-tailed hawks, owls and other animals in those woods.
“To disturb this piece of land for the sake of one or two homes… seems like a tremendous cost to the people who live on Stamford Drive and to the animals that use that area,” Gordon said, adding that many residents take walks on the property.
Her husband, Douglas, echoed her sentiments.
“We’re not trying to be NIMBYs, but this is a very special piece of property,” he said.
John Arnold, Harold Arnold’s grandson and the executor of his estate, got choked up as he told the planning commission of his grandparents’ love for the property. He noted that he turned down an earlier offer from a developer who wanted to build more houses on the land.
“Yeah, we could maybe try to milk it out of the estate a little bit more … but that’s not the way my grandparents would work,” he said. “We tried to keep it pure to them but be fair to their estate. The Halls gave us that opportunity.”
Board Chairman Alan Silverman noted that under the county’s zoning, six homes could be built on the land, compared to the two being proposed with the annexation. He reminded the neighbors that though they enjoy the property, they have in essence been “borrowing” it from its owners.
Commissioner Frank McIntosh said that denying this plan could lead to a less desirable proposal in the future.
“The next person might not be so caring about trees or streams,” he said. “What you might get then might be far worse.”
Commissioner Jeremy Firestone proposed recommending to council that the property be deed-restricted to limit development to the two homes the Halls have planned. His proposal was approved 3-2.
The plan is expected to be considered by council in June.
The city is considering annexing this 5.5-acre wooded lot adjacent to Fairfield. A Wilmington couple is purchasing the land and plans to divide it into two lots for single-family homes.