Photos: Above, protestors against Sussex County's 911 readdressing procedure file into the county administration building on Tuesday, May 8, 2001. Below, Jerry Lamb headed the Route 1 Coalition's march while Lindy DeMao started the petition drive.
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GEORGETOWN -- While not committing to specific measures to deal with Sussex County's 911 readdressing procedures, county council and the Route 1 Coalition did commiserate over the many headaches caused by the project on Tuesday, May 8, 2001.
Before and during council's regular meeting, Route 1 Coalition representatives presented a petition with more than 600 signatures requesting that council declare a moratorium on any new address changes and set up a commission to evaluate readdressing measures other than the 5-digit system that has been used to date.
In a rally outside the county courthouse before the council meeting, and during the Additional Business segment of the council meeting, Jerry Lamb of the Route 1 Coalition requested that council:
During the council meeting, County Administrator Robert L. Stickels said he would begin overseeing the project's remaining 30,000 addresses and that he and county staff would "make every effort to use addresses already in place."
He said the June 30 deadline for changing addresses has been postponed and offered the following instructions for the county's residents:
Business owners in unincorporated areas along Route 1 around Lewes and Rehoboth say they were unaware that the readdressing measures would affect them until they began receiving notices of the pending address changes a few weeks ago.
They said that up until that point, they thought the readdressing plan only affected those residents and businesses with R.R. or R.D. mailing addresses who had not been given a physical street address. They further said that addresses in the unincorporated areas on Route 1, New Road and Savannah Road are already sequential and should be suitable for a 911 system.
The changes, they say, would be expensive for businesses that would be forced to change their address on all of their advertising, Internet sites, stationery and mailings, plus time-consuming to inform customers, vendors and government agencies of the changes.
Lyndee DeMeo, the founder of the Route 1 Coalition and owner of Garage Sale Antiques, said an address change would likely cost her $1,300 plus lost business from customers trying to find her store using her old address.
Lamb said some alternatives his group has learned about in recent weeks include the use of Global Positioning Systems, posting 911 numbers on houses without changing the mailing addresses, and installing blinking house lights to alert emergency personnel when they reach the street of an emergency call.
"We're not saying we have the answers," said Lamb. "All we're saying is we have the questions, and asking council to explore the questions. And then the answers will come forth."
Others speaking against the proposed changes for the Lewes-Rehoboth area included Ed O'Connor of O'Connor's Temp Service, Bill Baker of Bill's Sport Shop, Al Derrickson of the New Road Coalition, and Jim Short of the Savannah Road Coalition.
Lamb, DeMeo and Short also spoke during the meeting, while Georgetown Mayor Bob Ricker urged council and residents to work together toward a "win-win" solution.
Much of the discussion revolved around both groups' concerns about the headaches created by the readdressing procedure, which resulted from a state mandate to enhance 911 systems to make it easier for emergency personnel to locate callers.
Council President Dale Dukes, in response to the Route 1 Coalition's call for a public hearing on the matter, said the county had already held 21 public hearings in each fire district in the county.
He said that he will need to contact more than 1,000 customers, 500 vendors, and various government agencies about the new addresses for his lumber businesses at a cost of around $3,000.
Still, he said, "The county is not blameless. We selected a consultant (3Di, whose contract was terminated last week) that was local and we felt would represent the county's interests. We probably should have stopped him months ago. We've done everything possible to make this as easy as possible, but this is one of the worst things I've been through in 13 years on council."
Dukes went on to say the council was open to other ideas. "If there is a better mouse trap, we'll consider it," he said. "That's why we set up the appeals process."
All of the councilmen related stories about phone calls they've received from constituents trying to straighten the readdressing procedure out.
Councilman Vance Phillips said one of his constituents had changed his address but was now getting his mail back as undeliverable. Councilman Lynn Rogers said he has received numerous calls from residents concerned about making the June 30 deadline that has been postponed.
"Everyone will have to give us some time to resolve this," said Stickels. "There's no one fix to all of this."
Sea Chase II Density Cut ...
Council approved a proposed conditional use with Councilman Lynn Rogers abstaining to allow Robino Seachase LLC to build a maximum of 45 multi-family units on 10.9 acres at the intersections of Roads 274 and 275 in the Lewes-Rehoboth Hundred.
The applicant originally requested 76 units but council cut the density from nearly 8 units per acre to approximately 4 units per acre.
Other conditions include that the development be served by Sussex County central sewer, central water by Tidewater Utilities Inc., that entrance, intersection and road improvements be completed by the developer, that the clubhouse and pool be completed by the time 24 units have been built, and that the development be subject to a final site plan review.
During the discussion, Councilman Vance Phillips suggested that a notification system be set up to let people know that they are buying a property in a development district and that "the cornfield across the road could be developed."
Councilman George Cole, whose district Sea Chase is in, said that he didn't believe that was necessary even though in this case, owners in Sea Chase I objected to the addition of Sea Chase II.
Council President Dale Dukes said he understood Phillips' concerns that buyers don't "check the chicken houses next door and the first time they open the window complain about the smell. But I feel it's buyer beware. I think people are getting more conscious of that now. Sometimes we get into overkill."
County Solicitor Eugene Bayard said he had a "couple of thoughts and ways to address the concerns" of Councilman Phillips and County Administrator Robert L. Stickels said the concerns were "very valid."Rehoboth Rezoning Denied ...
By a 3-2 vote, council denied a rezoning from a General Residential to a B1 district for property owned by Patricia McDaniel in the Lewes-Rehoboth Hundred.
McDaniel sought the rezoning to move a storage business onto the 19,410-square foot parcel.
Councilman George Cole led the opposition, saying that while the area in question was "unique", it was still mostly residential in character.
"It's an area that has provided affordable rent for summer workers," said Cole. "The rezoning would impact the residential character of an older neighborhood. B1 would also permit many other uses, from restaurants and gas stations to 7-11s. It could set a bad precedent by making it easy to expand the B1 district using this as a precedent for the next request."
Cole said he didn't find much support for the rezoning among neighbors. He also said he believed the proposed use was more appropriate for a C1 district than a B1 district.
Cole and Councilmen Finley B. Jones and Lynn Rogers voted against the rezoning. Council President Dale Dukes and Councilman Vance Phillips voted for it.Rehoboth RPC Approved ...
Council unanimously approved a rezoning from AR1 to MR-RPC to allow Rehoboth Home Builders Inc. to build 50 single-family homes on 24.45 acres east of Road 274 (Old Landing Road).
The developer requested 64 lots in a subdivision that was originally recorded to have 33 lots.
Among the conditions are that the development be served by central Sussex County sewer and water from Tidewater Utilities Inc., that conditions recommended by the Delaware Department of Transporation be completed by the developer, that deed restrictions on age be in compliance with the federal Fair Housing Act, that street lights and sidewalks be installed by the developer, and that the development be subject to a final site plan and review.
Although all five councilmen voted for the rezoning, Councilman George Cole and Councilman Lynn Rogers expressed reservations about it.
Cole called the developer's plans "a little weak" as far as RPCs go and expressed concern that the county would be obligated to enforce the age restrictions.
Rogers said he had "serious" concerns about the development occuring on and near Old Landing Road and that the county needs to address the issue with DelDOT Secretary Nathan Hayward.
"It's a bear of a road," said Rogers. "Some minor improvements would make it much better. Our concerns seem to be falling on deaf ears."In Other Business ...
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