Lennar and Grassdale

Analogous FDRPC Development Projects

There are many parallels between the way the FDRPC staff has approached these two development projects. The Grassdale project is presented at www.FightDECorruption.com/FortDuPont. The similarities with Lennar are outlined below.

Both Grassdale and the Lennar Site are Protected Land

Grassdale is protected Open Space land purchased with state funds under the Delaware Land Protection Act. The Lennar site is protected federal land under Section 6(f) of the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act which provides matching funds to states or municipalities for planning, improvements, or acquisition of outdoor recreational lands.

For a few years, DNREC has proposed a land exchange application to the federal government swapping the 6(f) Lennar site for another parcel within the Fort DuPont Complex. A few different versions were submitted in 2016 and an updated version was submitted on August 2, 2022. The review process has multiple stages and requirements which can take years to resolve.

Minimal Board Involvement

The first mention of Lennar at a Fort Corporation board meeting was July 8, 2020.

IV. Legal

A. Lennar Definitive Agreement Status Update – Mr. Walton explained he had just received the revised draft agreement from Lennar late Tuesday evening, July 7th, is in the process of reviewing the document, and hopes to present the revised agreement at the next Board meeting.

The process of board review of the Lennar project starts with a “revised draft agreement.” At this stage, there have apparently been multiple draft agreements. The staff has obviously been working on this project for months—possibly years.

There is no indication that the concept of a stacked townhouse development in this location was ever discussed with the board. No background is provided regarding the selection of Lennar or review of competing development partners. Mr. Walton is providing an update on the “Definitive Agreement Status”.

Although Mr. Walton has received this draft agreement, he is not sharing the document with the board at this time. He will review the agreement and present it to the board at a future meeting.

The next mention of the “Lennar Definitive Agreement” is September 16, 2020.

A. Lennar Definitive Agreement – Mr. Walton stated the specific details of the Agreement would be discussed in Executive Session however, he noted, for the public session, the agreement calls for one hundred fifty stacked townhomes in the Marina District, with site design starting within six months from the execution of the agreement.

X. Return to Public Session

A. Lennar Agreement – Motion was made by Mr. Diliplane and seconded by Mr. Morton to authorize the Executive Director to enter into an Agreement with Lennar based upon the 9/13/20 memo from counsel. A roll call vote was taken. Motion carried unanimously.

At this meeting, three days after receiving a memo from Mr. Walton, the board has  approved the contract.

Below is from the board meeting of February 9, 2022.

Lennar Amendment. Mr. Forsten gave an update on the 5th amendment of the agreement for 130 units. The original agreement was signed some time ago with several amendments done as well as investigations. The proposed 5th amendment states there’s a need for fill material on site due to dirt settling and compacting. The original agreement was structured for fees to the corporation of $20,000 for each unit sold as well as a fee for each unit for site work, considered part of the lot finishing agreement of $60,000 per unit; this is standard for most national home builders because they do not purchase lots without infrastructure in place. Lennar requires the seller to make improvements so they can come in and build the houses. The amended agreement includes additional funds to the corporation up front to do the rough grading necessary for the lot finishing. The main change is the additional funds to the corporation which will be credited against proceeds at closing. The permit and fee schedule has minimal changes; this was originally “TBD” in the agreement for which many don’t apply in the state of Delaware as it’s more of a corporate template form; impact fees are also included which will be discussed. A copy of the amendment along with a memo will be sent to the board for review as it was just received a few days ago.

There were a total of seven amendments to the Lennar Agreement. This is an update on the 5th amendment. There is no mention in the minutes of the first four amendments. Mr. Forsten’s report states that, “The original agreement was signed some time ago with several amendments done as well as investigations.” The minutes provide no information about either the amendments or the investigations. Mr. Forsten has not provided the board with a copy of this amendment which he received a few days ago.

Belated Local Consultation

The November 10, 2021 minutes state:

D. Master Planning Committee. Ms. Scott stated the committee met last week to discuss the Lennar site plan, which will be presented to Delaware City.

The Lennar plan was discussed at the July 18, 2022 Delaware City Mayor and Council meeting. Mr. Forsten, FDRPC Legal Counsel, stated that public hearings would be held in 2-3 weeks following meetings with the Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment.

Development Plans Not Disclosed for Either Project

Fort DuPont buyers were not provided with state required disclosure documents. The required disclosures would have required the Fort Corporation to reveal plans for the overall development of the Fort DuPont Complex. Purchasers of Canal District homes assumed they were buying into an area surrounded by public land which would remain undeveloped. They were not informed that Grassdale would become an RV Campground or that there would be a dense townhouse development adjoining their single-family homes.