Sussex County Delaware

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Sussex County Council ...

Council Approves Borrow
Pit, Two Developments

By ERIC MAGILL
SC Online Publisher

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council approved three projects that could add more than 400 homes and expand a borrow pit in the county at its regular meeting on Tuesday, April 9, 2002.

After long debates, council approved an expansion of a conditional use for Edward L. Kaye for a borrow pit, approved a scaled-down version of a proposed multi-family development by Grady Inc. on Shady Road near Lewes, and approved a large development on Route 54 for Bunting & Gray LLC.

Following is a look at the discussions of each of those votes:

Refuge at Dirickson Creek

Council unanimously approved a change of zone from AR-1 to MR-RPC for a 343-unit development, The Refuge at Dirickson Creek, in Baltimore Hundred north of Route 54.

The approval for Bunting & Gray LLC stipulates that no more than 56 of the units may be multi-family. Councilman Dale Dukes abstained from the vote.

In voting for the application, Councilman Vance Phillips said that he was "disappointed" that the application had been picked apart by council after the "developer bent over backwards to come in with an application that doesn't go to extremes to negotiate a final deal. This will only encourage others to come in with extreme applications."

Among the other stipulations are that the number of building permits issued will not exceed 60 per year and that recreational facilities will be open for use at the time the first 60 units are completed.

Borrow Pit Approved ...

Council approved by a 3-2 vote the conditional use application of Edward J. Kaye for the expansion of an existing borrow pit on 200.5 acres at the northeast corner of Routes 531 and 533 in Seaford Hundred.

Council President Finley B. Jones and Councilman George Cole voted against the application.

The Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended approval of the expansion of the borrow pit near Middleford Acres with 18 stipulations.

Council changed four of those stipulations and added another:

  • Removes the stipulation that the permit expire in three years if work hasn't begun on the new borrow pit within that time;
  • Allows the applicant to store fuel on-site if state agencies don't allow a bridge to be built over the Nanticoke River to the new pit;
  • Allows the use of a conveyor system if the applicant doesn't receive approval from state agencies for the bridge;
  • Hours of operation will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the month of March, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. in all other months, and from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays -- there would be no Sunday hours;
  • After the start of digging, a five-year review by Planning and Zoning for compliance with all current regulations, a 15-year environmental impact study, and termination of the permit in 25 years.

Councilman Dale Dukes recommended the first change because the applicant had stated that he wouldn't be finished in the existing borrow pit for another 5 to 7 years. Because conditional uses expire within one year and can only be extended for one-year periods twice, the conditional use would expire before Kaye was ready to use the new pit, Dukes said.

Councilman George Cole said that in that case the application was pre-mature, but Dukes and Councilman Lynn Rogers said the applicant came to council now because of the length of time that will be required to obtain the necessary permits for the pit from the appropriate state agencies.

Cole also questioned the Findings of Fact that stated the application would cause "no adverse impact". Cole said DelDOT had said in its report on the project that local roads were not sufficient to handle the weight of the trucks entering and exiting the proposed pit.

Stickels admitted that the only testimony related to any adverse impact had been provided by the applicant.

In voting yes, Councilman Vance Phillips said the amended application imposed enough regulations and oversight to "ensure that the community will be adequately protected and that the environment will be adequately protected."

In casting the lone nay vote, Cole said the Findings of Fact had not been based on any firm evidence and that the borrow pit was incompatible with the growing residential communities in the area.

Grady Inc. Subdivision

Council approved a drastically scaled down version of the proposed multi-family development by Grady Inc.

By a 3-2 vote, council passed the conditional use application for a 68-unit subdivision on 17 acres on the southerly side of Route 276 (Shady Road), approximately 620 feet southwest of Route 1 in the Lewes-Rehoboth Hundred.

The approval reduced the number of units from the 130 recommended by the county's Planning and Zoning Commission and from the 190 originally sought by the applicant.

A long debate preceeded council's vote, including several votes on changes in the 17 stipulations presented by county staff and Planning and Zoning.

Most of the stipulations centered on a Native American cemetery located on the site.

Those stipulations will require the developer to hire a state-approved archeologist to denote the boundaries of the cemetery, to mark and fence the cemetery boundaries with permanent markers, to provide designated access to the cemetery of no less than 10 feet in width and to provide two designated parking spaces for the cemetery. Council also approved stipulations preventing any construction within 40 feet of the cemetery.

Council members George Cole, Vance Phillips and Dale Dukes voted for the amended application, although Phillips and Dukes both expressed their dismay that the number of units had been cut nearly in half.

They also expressed doubts that Grady Inc. would move forward with the project, and during the debate a representative of the company tried to withdraw the application but was rejected.

Council President Finley B. Jones and councilman Lynn Rogers voted against the amended application, saying the project wasn't in character with the surrounding area.

Cole moved to reduce the number of units from 130, or 7.6 units per acre, to 68, or 4 units per acre, citing the county engineering department's 1997 study recommending a density of 4 units per acre for the proposed area. He further stated that the 68 units would double the density of the existing AR-1 zoning.

Phillips argued against the reduced density, saying that adjacent land was zoned commercial, which provides for 12 units per acre. He said the 7.6 units per acre recommended would provide a transition area from the commercial areas to lower density residential areas and farmland nearby.

At one point during the debate, Phillips moved to withdraw the application but that motion was voted down 3-2. Another motion by Cole to force the developer to include the amenity package rather than making it optional was also voted down.

In Other Business ...
  • Council heard the introduction of a proposed ordinance to borrow up to $1 million to cover additional expenses with the Ellendale Sanitary Sewer District project. County Finance Director David Baker told council that the ordinance would allow the county to borrow up to $1 million over 20 years at 0 percent interest from the state's 21st Century Fund. He said the additional funding became necessary when the county's estimates for the Ellendale project had to be increased following the receipt of project bids. He added that the county could also receive additional loans and grants from the Rural Development Agency for the project.

  • Council also heard the introduction of a proposed ordinance to borrow $13 million from the state revolving fund at 3.2 percent interest for 20 years for plant upgrades at the South Coastal Regional Wastewater Treatment facility.

  • Council unanimously approved a three-year extension of its auditing contract with the Georgetown accounting firm of Jefferson, Uriane, Doane and Sterner. The extension will increase the auditing contract's cost by 3 percent per year. The audit, which will cost approximately $86,000 in the first year of the extension, will cover the annual audit of county finances, the A133 audit of federal funds, audits for the 11 county libraries, and any additional work required during the term.

  • Council unanimously agreed to allow the engineering department to post notices regardin the proposed West Rehoboth Expansion of the Dewey Beach Sanitary Sewer District to include the Henlopen Landing property of Bridle Ridge Properties LLC.

  • Council unanimously approved a lease a commercial lease assignment at the Sussex County Industrial Park for Hol-Krist LLC and Patrick Power Products. Patrick Power Products is developing a portable generator that could be used for military equipment. According to County Administrator Robert L. Stickels, the generator could save the military a substantial amount of money over its existing generators and could substantially increase jobs at the 15-employee company. Stickels cautioned against being over-optimistic, saying that while the lease "could lead to a couple hundred jobs," it was a "long-shot".

  • The Sussex County Return's Day Committee presented the hatchet used to "bury the hatchet" from the 2000 Return's Day to council to show its appreciation for council's support of the Return's Day Inc. organization. County Administrator Robert L. Stickels said the county will try to mount the hatchet under the county seal in the county office building. Leslie Walls of the Return's Day Committee said the 2002 Return's Day will be held on Nov. 7.

  • The public hearing on the county's proposed Land Acquisition program has been rescheduled to April 23, 10:45 in council chambers for public hearing of land acquisition ordinance.

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