Hearing Aug. 29
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Kerin Magill, editor of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
The Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the county's Comprehensive Land Use Plan at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2002, at the Georgetown CHEER Center.
And while all involved have said this required update to the 1997 plan doesn't include wholesale changes, the first draft of the 2002 update has created some concern among members of the fast-growing coastal communities.
The update must be approved by October. Sussex County Council, which will have the final say on the plan, will hold its public hearing on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at the CHEER Center.
While much of the plan remains the same as the 1997 version, considerable changes had been recommended for the coastal zone, officially classified as an "environmentally sensitive developing area", by county staff during public hearings last winter at the request of the Association of Coastal Towns.
Those changes, mostly involving an end to upzoning agriculturally zoned land for developments in the coastal zone, an increase in wetlands buffers, and the exclusion of certain types of uses from residential density calculations, have disappeared from the first draft of the plan, a matter that greatly concerns A.C.T.
A.C.T., comprised of the mayors of the towns of Bethany Beach, Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island, Henlopen Acres, Lewes, Ocean View, Rehoboth Beach and South Bethany, will present a request that the Planning & Zoning Commission recommend the adoption of those criteria to the council at Thursday's hearing.
Harry Haon, a Fenwick Island council member who will present A.C.T.'s case to the commission, said on Wednesday, Aug. 28, that one of the main concerns is the recommended density for development projects within the environmentally sensitive area.
After county staff presented a recommendation during the winter for two units per gross acre in the environmentally sensitive area -- the current density for the AR-1 Agricultural zoning district -- the first draft now adds another criteria allowing clustering of four units per net residential acreage in the environmentally sensitive zone.
That could mean that in a 100-acre development with 75 potential residential acres, 200 units could be built based on the gross acreage, or 300 units could be built based on the net residential acreage.
"Is it the lower or greater of those two?" asked Haon on Wednesday. "The essence of it (A.C.T.'s concern) is that there was clarity before in that upzoning in the environmentally sensitive area wouldn't be called for. It wasn't a vague thing. This creates enough confusion over that you need a Philadelphia lawyer to figure it out."
The 2002 plan focuses on pinpointing areas to be considered "developing areas" and "secondary development areas," areas proposed for annexation into the county's 25 towns and cities, and those to be considered "town centers".
Areas identified as town centers would be allowed 4 to 12 units per acre.
Another focus of the plan is the transportation needs of the county in the face of tremendous growth. Council member Vance Phillips said last month when the plan was introduced that he believes the plan should urge state officials to pay more attention to the county's roads. Phillips also said new roads may be needed to deal with the growth.
Other areas receiving attention in the plan are agricultural preservation and environmental considerations.
Sussex County will observe the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with an event called "United We Stand," which will include speeches by local officials and performances by the Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences Chorus and the Milford Community Band.
The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on The Circle, Georgetown. Representatives from the county's 21 fire companies will be on hand, as will members of the military. The ceremony will conclude at 10:30 a.m.
Sussex Countians will have six chances to help shape outdoor recreation development for the next five years, as a series of public meetings kicks off next month.
The meetings, along with an 1,800-home telephone survey, will be part of the planning process and will help the state develop priorities and strategies for outdoor recreation statewide.
The resulting plan will help the state decide how to spend its $1.3 million yearly allotment from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In Sussex County, the following workshops are scheduled:
All hearings will be 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Written comments can be sent to Robert Ehemann, Division of Parks and Recreation, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901 or email@example.com.
Delaware's coastal water quality monitoring received a boost on Tuesday, Aug. 27 when the Environmental Protection Agency announced a $211,339 grant.
The grant will be used to enhance beach monitoring and public notification systems, with a portion to be used to develop a system for real-time public access to information about the conditions of Delaware's beach waters.
Thirty-five states will receive a total of $10 million through the BEACH (Beaches Environmental Assessment Act and Coastal Health) Act of 2000.
The grants range from $150,000 to $530,000 and are based on the length of the beach season, miles of coastline and the number of people using the beaches.
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