NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Sussex County Council's decision to rezone 96 acres on the southern border of Ocean View but limit the number of units to the approximate number allowed under the old zoning was encouraging.
The 5-0 vote on Tuesday, April 10, 2001, rezoned the property owned by Baltimore-area developer Abe Korotki from AR-1 to MR-RPC but cut the number of units from the original request of 361 to 179.
The vote allows Korotki to move forward with his project while giving Ocean View residents a breather from the explosive growth that has threatened the area's character as a village of single-family homes, mom-and-pop businesses, and offices.
As could be expected, Korotki wasn't happy with the decision and refused to comment following the vote. He had already said he would have to reevaluate the project after the county's Planning & Zoning Commission reduced the number of units to 261. He also threatened to put mobile homes on the property if he didn't get his way at an Ocean View Town Council meeting.
Whatever Mr. Korotki decides to do, we can all take solace in the fact that Sussex County Council members listened to the concerns of residents and did the right thing.
To call the growth around Ocean View explosive may not be accurate. It might be more accurately described as exponential.
A community of 800 homes now, the town, if Mr. Korotki does build his 179 units, would see an influx of 1,000 new homes in the next five years just on its southern border. In addition, it has 500 vacant lots within its borders, most of which will likely be built on in the next 10 years.
That kind of growth is extremely difficult for any town to sustain, rarely works in the town's favor, and is at the root of the proposal by the mayors of the Association of Coastal Towns to implement a one-year rezoning moratorium in the unincorporated areas of the coastal zone.
The Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit planning organization that has studied cases of rapid expansion across the country, says this about such rapid growth:
"Whatever the cause of the influx, rapid expansion -- meaning more than a 2 percent annual increase in population -- generally brings more harm than good. Towns can't seem to keep ahead of problems created by expansion in excess of this rate. Before one problem can be solved, one more pops up. They pile up and complicate each other. Local leaders are overwhelmed."
We're seeing these problems all over Sussex County, from small towns like Ocean View to resorts like Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach to larger towns like Seaford to Sussex County Council.
Council President Dale Dukes, in expressing his opposition to ACT's proposed rezoning moratorium at the April 3 council meeting, begged the coastal towns to take the rezoning decisions off the county's shoulders by annexing properties around their borders.
He has simply been overwhelmed by them. And this in a county that grew by "only" 4 percent a year during the 1990s.
Still, despite Dukes' opposition to the rezoning moratorium, we were mightily encouraged by council's decision on the Korotki development. That it was unanimous was even more encouraging.
We hope that signals that council understands that such explosive development can not be sustained, either by the county or the towns they surround. And we hope that developers got the message and will bring projects to the table that are more in line with what the county and towns can support.
Local News Index | News Index
Sussex County Online Copyright © 1999-2001 Sussex County Online