Sussex County Delaware

Coastal Planners
Want Council to
Stop Rezonings

 
Sussex County Council ...

Other Regions Also
Weigh in on Land Use

By ERIC MAGILL
Sussex County Online Publisher

Administrator's Report

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council heard recommendations from the four regional planning meetings held during the past two months at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2000.

County Administrator Robert L. Stickels told council that among the recommendations was one from Region 3 to allow areas known to be environmentally sensitive to be developed as zoned rather than allow them to be rezoned to higher densities.

Region 3, encompassing Dagsboro, Frankford, Selbyville, Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach, Ocean View and Millville, has been overwhelmed by rezonings around the municipalities by county council in the past.

Besides the impact on the environment, the increased densities have also harmed the quality of life in the area through overpopulation that has overcrowded beaches and the inland bay recreation areas.

The Bethany-Fenwick areas have been particularly hard it. The new Bear Trap development by Freeman Communities LLC will double the size of the Ocean View area in the next 10 years all by itself and Freeman's proposed Americana Bayside development on Route 54 west of Fenwick Island would create the county's largest town in summer and one of its largest towns in winter.

A ban on rezonings would still allow for growth because property owners and developers would be allowed to build according to the current zoning of their properties.

Stickels showed a map that displayed the areas considered to be environmentally sensitive in Region 3, most of which is in the development district approved by council in its 1997 Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Those development districts, established because of their proximity to existing public water and sewer, have been cited by developers for rezoning to higher densities in those areas.

Councilman Dale Dukes said he would want to see a detailed list of the boundaries of those environmentally sensitive areas before considering such an option.

Stickels said mayors from around the county would address council on these issues at council's regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2000.

The regional planning meetings were set up to provide an intergovernmental approach to better coordinate planning and infrastructure investments between the county and the municipalities.

Participants included the mayor and one councilperson from each town in the regional planning areas, as well as state senators and representatives from the planning areas. The public was also invited to attend and make comments.

Region 1 consisted of the Greenwood, Bridgeville, Seaford, Blades, Bethel, Laurel and Delmar areas. Region 2 consisted of Milford, Ellendale, Georgetown, Milton, Slaughter Beach and Millsboro. And Region 4 consisted of Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach and Henlopen Acres.

Stickels said planners at those meetings said they were pleased with those groupings.

Other recommendations included amendments to existing ordinances.

One would exclude federal wetlands, golf courses, commercial offices and shopping areas in density calculations for proposed residential planned communities. Another would require that a 100-foot wide protective buffer zone be maintained between any bay, river, stream, creek or wetland.

Among the other recommendations were support for a Five-Year Mobility Plan to study a north-south limited access road in the county and support for a highway corridor overlay zone for Routes 13 and 113.

A final proposal that received the most comment from council was a request that more groups other than government officials, such as citizens' coalitions, business organizations and special interest groups, be included on the panels.

Councilman Vance Phillips said a representative should be included from the Farm Bureau, but other councilmen felt there were already too many people on the panels and that more panelists would create gridlock in the planning process.

Councilmen George Cole and Finley B. Jones both said that formal invitations should be sent to those groups to allow them to participate as audience members. The council decided to send out invitations for now to see how that works.

Payment to Georgetown ...

Photo: Georgetown Mayor Bob Ricker (right) and Town Manager David Baird address council.

Georgetown Mayor Bob Ricker and Town Manager David BairdCouncil gave the Town of Georgetown a payment in lieu of taxes of $5,305. The county is exempt from property taxes on property it owns in Georgetown but four years ago decided to make a payment in lieu of taxes amounting to 50 percent of the taxes it would owe on new properties. Stickels said the county would normally owe $18,000 on those properties.

Stickels also called on the state to make a payment to the town. He said the state's payment would amount to $141,000 and that the state does contribute to the City of Dover in Kent County and that the University of Delaware makes payments to the City of Newark. "I've been trying to get this done for 20 years," he said.

Georgetown Mayor Bob Ricker and Town Manager David Baird accepted the check from council.

Ricker said the town is currently planning renovations for The Circle over the next year, has approved a renovation plan for the train station, is expanding the public library to 30,000 square feet at a cost of $4.5 million (half of which the town must pay for), and is working to acquire additional parking in the town.

In addition, Ricker said the town is expected to adopt its comprehensive land use plan by Spring 2001, is conducting a comprehensive street evaluation program due to a long overdue need for street repairs in the town, is working with the Indian River School District on its building improvements, and anticipating the construction of the Delmarva Christian High School for 1,500 students on Airport Road near the CHEER Center.


In other business ...

Photo: Representatives of Sussex County's Chinese community accept council's proclamation of Dec. 4-10 as Falun Dafa week from council president Lynn Rogers.

  • Falun Dafa Week in Sussex CountyCounty Administrator Robert L. Stickels presented a book by Bridgeville artist Jack Lewis that will be put in the county's 14 public libraries and the Bookmobile. The book, "A Brush With Fate", shows many of Lewis' paintings including a number of scenes from Sussex County. Lewis has been a nationally known artist for 60 years and is most famous for his landscapes. He came to Delaware in 1936 as an artist for the Civilian Conservation Corps and has lived in Bridgeville for 40 years. The book includes his paintings of Laurel, Smith's Apple Orchards in Bridgeville, Oak Orchard in 1957, Bridgeville in 1936, the Judge's House just off The Circle, the Jones Pool House in Lewes, the Rosemont in Laurel, Wyatt's Grocery Store in Lewes, and the Barrel Factory in Lewes.

  • Council proclaimed the week of Dec. 4-10 as Falun Dafa Week in Sussex County. Falun Dafa is an ancient Chinese ritual that came to Delaware in 1996. Representatives of the county's Chinese community told council that it is practiced by nearly 100 million people worldwide. The ancient exercise and meditation ritual is designed to make its practitioners happy and free of illness and to be a better person in every way by incorporating what is learned in Falun Dafa in their everyday lives. Council was told that the practice is banned in Communist China because the Communist government there fears the fact that so many people practiced it. Councilman Vance Phillips made a motion to proclaim Falun Dafa Week in the county, saying that "If this makes the Chinese Communist government scared, I'd be glad to make that motion."

  • Stickels told council that he had been notified that the old Laurel Post Office building is for sale. Built in 1934, the 3,169 square foot building sits on a 10,183 square foot lot. The asking price is $90,000. Councilman Dale Dukes said he couldn't think of a reason for the county to buy the building but that the Town of Laurel should be notified for its possible interest.

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