Sussex County Delaware

Council Approves
Tower Ordinance

Sussex County Council ...

Puts New Restrictions on
Communications Towers

SC Online Publisher

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council unanimously approved amendments to the zoning ordinance regarding commercial communications towers and antennas at its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 24, 2001.

Council voted 4-0 after a public hearing to approve the changes designed to improve safety for pilots around the towers. Councilman George Cole was absent.

The changes include:

  • Limiting towers in residential districts or within 500 feet of a residential district to a special use exception that must go through the Board of Adjustment.

  • Requiring that no other sites for co-location of an antenna on an existing communications tower be within 2 miles of the proposed site.

  • Requiring a demonstrated need for the proposed tower.

  • Subjecting proposed towers to the county's setback and lot requirements.

  • Requiring that lighting systems visible for 360 degrees around the tower be installed every 50 feet.

The amendments grew out of concerns expressed by crop dusters who have complained that they couldn't see unlighted towers in foggy or cloudy conditions and that the county's tower maps are outdated.

Jeff Chorman, aviation safety counselor and a crop-dusting pilot for Allen Chorman & Son Aviation, Inc., asked council to pass the amendments.

"We operate in Class G air space and the lights will be a huge help," said Chorman. "We (pilots) can remember the tall ones, but all of the little ones are hard to remember. Last night I found a new antenna in Harbeson. I was spraying peas and it was right there behind them. Anything from Route 1 west is where we have trouble, and that's pretty much the whole county."

The amended ordinance will cover towers up to 200 feet. Towers of more than 200 feet will be regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The towers must also comply with all FAA and Federal Communications Commission regulations.

Lawrence Lank told council that the Planning & Zoning Commission has reviewed site plans for 50 new towers in the last two years and another half-dozen since the introduction of the amendments.

"These towers are replacing the Holly as the state tree," said County Administrator Robert L. Stickels.

EMS Affiliation Agreement

Council voted 4-0 to approve an Emergency Medical Services Affiliation Agreement with Beebe Medical Center and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital to provide training for county EMS personnel at those facilities.

According to Glenn Luedtke, Sussex County's EMS Director, the relationship will reduce the amount of time the county's paramedics are away on training courses outside of the county.

Those training courses are currently provided by Kent General Hospital in Dover.

Sea Country Estates Sewer District

Council heard a summary of an April 14 public hearing on the proposed Sea Country Estates Sanitary Sewer District near Fenwick Island.

Assistant County Engineer Russell W. Archut told council that 22 residents attended the hearing. Archut said he presented information on the proposed district's boundaries, rates and referendum procedures.

The proposed boundaries include the Sea Country Estates I subdivision and an adjacent property that includes a single-family home. Another nearby property owner was told that he could apply to be annexed to the Sea Country Estates Sanitary Sewer District if it is built.

The expected total cost for the 50-home project is $665,000. Archut said the county will seek grant funding to reduce the cost.

"The costs are high," Archut told council. "We presented the rates to the homeowners last August to make sure they knew what they were up against. With small sub-divisions, the fixed costs of providing service are very high. But since it is so small, if we're successful in finding grants anywhere for them, it will make a big difference."

The proposed rates for the district are:

  • Annual Front Foot Assessment -- $10
  • Annual Service Charge -- $250
  • Permit Fee (One-Time) -- $100
  • System Connection Charge or Impact Fee (One-Time) -- $1,650*
    * For first year -- connections after first year $2,600/EDU

Typical annual bills could be the following:

  • 100 FF with home -- $1,290
  • 110 FF with home -- $1,394
  • 125 FF with home -- $1,550

Other user information:

  1. The assessment charge will begin when the system has been constructed and is operational.
  2. Vacant lots only pay the front foot assessment.
  3. The service charge begins at the time of connection.
  4. A single-family residence is one equivalent dwelling unit (EDU).
  5. Assessable front footage (FF) is essentially based on the street frontage of the property.
  6. The minimum assessment is 40 FF.
  7. Corner lots and lots on more than one street are assessed on the shortest side.
  8. Commercial structures are assessed for usage and impact fees based on the type of business or use.
  9. All residences and businesses must be connected within one year of the system being operational.
Dagsboro-Frankford Sewer District

Council approved by a 4-0 vote an ordinance allowing the Sussex County Engineering Department to post notices of a request to extend the Dagsboro-Frankford Sanitary Sewer District to include the Dagsboro Church of God.

The proposed annexation would encompass 30 acres around the church near the intersection of Route 26 and U.S. 113.

That would include 22 acres of church property and another 8 acres of a subdivision owned by the church, Archut said.

Archut said the church was requesting the annexation due to future expansion plans for its church, school, and annual events such as its annual Family Fourth of July celebration.

In other business ...
  • Council approved 4-0 a conditional acceptance for wastewater facilities in the Little Meadows subdivision on Route 20 in the Blades Sanitary Sewer District. Robert Green, the county's directory of utility construction, said the acceptance allows the county to take over maintenance of the pumping station and gravity lines. The facility will serve 75 single-family homes in Little Meadows. The developer, David Webb, has paid $6,750 in inspection and administration fees. The total cost of the project is $274,000.

  • Three new zoning ordinances were introduced. Walter Wilson is requesting a change of zone from an MR to a C1 General Commercial district on 1.51 acres in the Broadkill Hundred and the same change for 1.49 acres in the Broadkill Hundred. Auto Parts of Greenwood is requesting a conditional use in an AR-1 district for an auto recycling business.

  • County Finance Director David Baker told council that the county has refinanced its West Rehoboth Sanitary Sewer District funding to effectively reduce the annual assessment rates in the district by 3 percent, or $15 to $18 a year.

  • County Administrator Robert L. Stickels told council that the Delaware Department of Transportation will hold a public workshop to present facts and solicit public comments regarding Route 26 improvements in the Ocean View area on Wednesday, April 25, from 4-8 p.m. at Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View. The public is invited to attend any time during the workshop.

  • Stickels announced that Assistant County Attorney Dennis L. Schrader has been awarded the Andrew D. Christie Pro Bono Publico Award by the Delaware Supreme Court. The court presents the award to a member of the Delaware Bar for outstandin legal services provided free to the court. Schrader's work with the court includes memberships on the Delaware Courts Planning Committee, the Board of Professional Responsibility, the Courts 2000 Commission, and the chief justice's study of the Common Pleas Court.

  • Stickels said the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development division will present a check for $2.943 million to county officials toward the construction of the sanitary sewer collection and transmission system for the Oak Orchard Sanitary Sewer District. The check will be presented on Friday, April 27, at 11 a.m. in observance of Earth Day. The funding consists of a $500,000 grant and a 40-year loan of $2.443 million at 4.5 percent. The total cost of the project is $8.7 million. The county has also secured a $3.8 million from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control through the 21st Century Fund and a 20-year, $1 million loan at 2 percent interest. A Housing and Urban Development Disaster Relief Initiative Grant worth $963,000 was provided to the district.

  • Council President Dale Dukes reminded the audience that the annual Sussex County Prayer Breakfast will be held on June 18 at the Delaware Technical & Community College's Student Center. The guest speaker will be Dr. Richard Foth, the
  • Council approved by a 4-0 vote a $200 donation for an ad in the Miss Delaware Pageant program. It also approved, 4-0, a $100 donation for a Youth Family Fun Night at an elementary school. Both donations will come out of Councilman Finley B. Jones' councilmanic funds.

  • Council approved a request from Stickels for an executive session to discuss pending litigation on May 1 at 9 a.m.
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