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NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Sussex County Council decided to defer action on a revised land use plan to meet a state demand to lower the density of developments planned for the coastal inland bay areas in Sussex County.
At its weekly meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 1999, Council heard a compromise proposal from County Administrator Robert Stickels, who has proposed limiting development around the inland bays to 2 units per acre rather than the higher densities currently in the county's Land Use Plan.
If the county allowed development that exceeded that density, the state of Delaware would withhold funding for infrastructure improvements, such as sewer, that might be needed to support the development.
Stickels' proposal would replace the county's existing Development Districts with Environmental Investment Areas.
Council will now present the proposal to local municipalities. The first meeting will be with officials from Bethany Beach, Dagsboro, Fenwick Island, Frankford, Ocean View, Millville, Selbyville and South Bethany on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
Public hearings would be required to actually change the county's current Land Use Plan. Land owners in the coastal bay areas approved of the Development Districts, feeling the higher densities raised the value of their properties because 6 to 8 units could be added per acre rather than the 2 units now being proposed.
The state touched off a firestorm of controversy when it demanded that densities be lowered around the inland bays because it originally signed off on the county's land use plan before coming back last month with demands that the Land Use Plan be changed to restrict development around the inland bays.
In other business, County Council agreed to give the Sussex Conservation District $80,000 to help with drainage funding for cleaning local drainage ditches to keep them clear for rain storms.
Valerie Woodruff, Delaware's acting secretary of education, showed a disturbing lack of understanding of how this state works when she said earlier this week that year-round school in Delaware was something she "would absolutely support".
Apparently, Woodruff is not familiar with the benefits of a summer job or with some of the main industries in this state -- Tourism and Farming.
No matter how it would be implemented, it would wreak havoc on the economy in Sussex County, where resort businesses and farms rely on student labor during the summer and where local students use those jobs to earn money for cars, college, etc., and to gain the life skills they'll need upon graduation.
Typically, year-round school plans call for periodic breaks, such as a 9-week class schedule followed by a 4-week break.
Such a schedule seems certain to stunt rather than enhance a student's education with the constant stopping and starting of the educational process. The typically wasted days at the start and end of a school year would increase four-fold under such a plan.
As for those summer jobs, students would hardly learn anything of value since they'd be heading back to school by the time they were properly trained.
The state has some cock-eyed ideas about how to improve education in Delaware. Year-round school is at the top of that list.
Delmar Town Manager Roberta Tiller reports that the town's water supply is now in compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Act.
Approximately 80 percent of water samples taken from the town significantly failed testing by the Environmental Protection Agency for lead and copper in 1993, forcing the town to build a new Water Treatment Plant.
Tiller said that now, six months after the water plant's completion, the town has passed the lead and copper test "with flying colors!" The EPA tested drinking water in 20 homes in Delmar this time.
"Many agencies and individuals worked together to plan and fund the building of our new town water treatment plant," said Tiller. "Without such a cooperative effort, our citizens might still be anxious about the state of their drinking water."
Tiller singled out Maryland Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and Delaware Sens. William Roth and Joseph Biden for their work in solving the town's water problem. She also said that the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Rural Development Administration, National Rural Water office played key roles.
Copies of the Consumer Confidence Report, a statement of facts about the town's drinking water, are posted at the Delmar Town Hall, the Delmar Public Library, and the Bank of Delmarva and Wilmington Trust Company in Delmar.
Questions concerning the report may be answered by calling Tiller at 410-896-2777 or 302-846-2664 from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
You can voice your opinion on Sussex County issues in the Sussex County Online Forum or cast your vote on various Sussex County issues on our online poll. Just follow the links below to make your voice heard and your vote count:
The Delaware Office of Planning Coordination web site at http://www.state.de.us/planning/ includes the controversial document, "Managing Growth in 21st Century Delaware: Strategies for State Policies and Spending", that has Sussex County officials up in arms. Also posted on the site are the Delaware Assistance Handbook for Local Governments and the LUPA Reviews Page detailing proposed land use changes under review under the Land Use Planning Act.
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