Sussex County Delaware

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Sussex County Council ...

Council Overturns P&Z
On Country Meadows

By KERIN MAGILL
SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- The Sussex County Council on Tuesday, June 24, 2003, overturned a decision by the county Planning and Zoning Commission to deny a subdivision application for Country Meadows near Millsboro.

The council voted 3-2 in favor of the appeal by Country Meadows developer Sussex Ventures Inc. The Planning and Zoning Commission had voted twice to deny the application for the 64-home development off Sussex Road 297. Council members Vance Phillips and Finley Jones voted against the appeal; council members George Cole, Dale Dukes and president Lynn Rogers voted in favor of it.

This was Sussex Ventures' second appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission denial of a subdivision application for Country Meadows, a proposed 64-unit development on 76 acres off Sussex Road 297. County Council's decision means the project may move forward, but it must go before the Planning and Zoning Commission again for site plan reviews.

The first denial came in July 2001, and the most recent in January 2003. Recurring concerns cited by the commission have been the length of the subdivision's interior cul-de-sac road, and whether it would be difficult for emergency vehicles to traverse it; the loss of farmland in a rural area, drainage, and the subdivision's single entrance.

At the June 3 county council hearing on the appeal, experts testified the development will not cause stormwater problems for the surrounding residents, that 13 other similar subdivisions have been approved in the same area -- rendering concerns about loss of farmland invalid -- and that the interior road does not violate the county's subdivision ordinance. At the meeting, Sussex Ventures' attorney John Sergovic also said the state Department of Transportation has limited Country Meadows to a single entrance.

Donald Ward of Sussex Ventures Inc. said at the June 3 hearng that his firm is "not looking to change the character of the area," and that he is seeking to build the 64 homes on 76 acres. He said no evidence has been submitted showing Country Meadows would exascerbate sedimentation, flooding or erosion. In fact, Ward said, the Inland Bays "are going to be substantially cleaner" because the stormwater wouldn't be running across open farmland anymore.

But Gay Moore, representing the Mount Joy Citizens for Responsible growth, told the council that "If we find excuses to permit a 64-unit subdivision in an AR-1 zone, not in a development district, why do we have a Land Use Plan? Why do we have a Planning and Zoning Commission? I'm not against development, but I want it done responsibly," Moore said.

Thirty-three letters of opposition were submitted regarding the Country Meadows subdivision.

Phillips said he voted to uphold the Planning and Zoning Commission's denial because "the subdivision process is designed to give great autonomy" to the commission." But the three council members voting to overturn the denial said they did not feel the commission's stated concerns were sufficient for denial.

"Show me a subdivision that has not taken up farmland," Dukes said. Cole said that with the current county ordinances, he didn't see sufficient grounds for denial. "Short of changing things, I can't support the denial," Cole said.

After the vote, Cole said that if the county is truly concerned about preserving farmland, it should greatly reduce the density allowed in the AR-1 District, which currently allows two units per acre.

Cole said to preserve farmland and make that farmland less attractive to developers, the AR-1 density should be in line with other counties, which restrict development in agricultural districts to as low as one unit per five or 10 acres.

County OKs Tower Agreement With Gumboro Fire Co.

Sussex County Council approved an agreement with the Gumboro Fire Company allowing radio tower to be constructed on the fire company's property

The county would pay for the construction of the tower, fencing around it, stone at its base and a concrete pad to place it on, while the fire company will pay for the electric service to the tower.

The county will, in turn, pay a portion of the cost of a generator to power the fire house and the tower in an emergency.

Council Takes Summer Hiatus July 1, 8

There will be no county council meetings on July 1 or July 8 so the council can take a summer break.

County offices will be closed Friday, July 4 for the Independence Day holiday and will reopen Monday, July 7.

The next county council meeting will be Tuesday, July 15.

In Other Business ...
  • County council denied an application for conditional use for a produce/antiques/farm machinery business at Sussex roads 626 and 36, citing concerns about existing zoning violations on the property, owned by Jay R. Donovan, and concerns about parking and the lack of other commercial uses in the area.

    • County council approved the following:

    • A conditional use application by Rehoboth Home Builders Inc. for an expansion of the Eagle Point development, at Route 1 and Sussex Road 276, by 52 units; and

    • A conditional use application by Quakertown Medical Group L.L.C. for medical offices on 1.24 acres near Lewes.

  • Council heard the following proposed ordinances:
    • A conditional use application for 1.24 acres in an AR-1 district in Northwest Fork Hundred, for a car lot, by Tanya Lewis.

    • A conditional use application for 13,789 square feet in Georgetown Hundred for a classroom and studio, by Robin Reifsnyder.

    • A conditional use application for 20,095 square feet in an AR-1 district in Seaford Hundred, for an auto detailing business, by Michael and Heather Kirby.

    • A change of zone application from AR-1 to MR/RPC for 32.75 acres in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred, by Anderson Homes L.L.C.

    • A change of zone application from AR-1 to MR/RPC for 385.161 acres in Baltimore Hundred, by Bay Forest L.L.C.

    • A change of zone application from AR-1 to MR/RPC for 104.32 acres in Baltimore Hundred, by Bay Forest L.L.C.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • New Hope Recreation and Development Center Inc., $500 for pre-construction costs.

    • City of Seaford Police Department, $500 for Seaford's Annual Night Out Against Crime and Drugs.

    • Sussex West Patriots, $500 for tournament expenses.

    • Ellendale Community Civic Improvement Association Inc., $250 for community informational meeting.

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