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Coastal Growth Focus of
County Council Meeting

SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Coastal growth came into focus again during the Sussex County Council meeting of Tuesday, March 18, 2003, when the council approved a townhouse project near Fenwick Island and discussed an acceleration in growth in the Cedar Neck Road area near Ocean View.

The council voted 4-1 to approve a 20-unit townhouse project on Route 1 about one mile north of Fenwick Island. The 13-acre site is adjacent to the Summertime Park mobile home community and the Seatowne complex. It faces on the Little Assawoman Bay, and much of the discussion centered on the placement of one of the buildings partially on wetlands.

Council member George Cole, who cast the sole "no" vote on the project, said he did not feel landowner Blaine Phillips and planner Land Design Inc. had done as much as they could to avoid disturbing wetlands on the site. He said allowing wetlands to be filled to locate one of the buildings there goes against prior council practices. Previously, Cole said, "we have not permitted any structures in wetlands."

"We have a record of zero impact" on wetlands, he said. Cole also said he felt a single-family development "would be more environmentally sensitive." Tom Ford of Land Design said the proposed townhouses would in fact have less environmental impact than single family homes. He also pointed out that plans call for filling less than 0.1 acre, as allowed by state and federal law.

Council member Vance Phillips said he felt the number of units in the project should be increased to conform with neighboring communities -- mostly townhouses, a mobile home park and condominiums.

Cole urged the council to defer voting on the conditional use application until several points could be clarified, including a proposed crosswalk on Route 1, an oceanside easement relating to the bayside site, and exactly what restrictions the county could impose on the developer regarding use of wetlands.

In the end, however, the council voted to approve the conditional use after watering down a recommendation by the county Planning and Zoning Commission regarding the wetlands. The version approved by the council includes a condition that no disturbance of wetlands will be done without the proper federal and state permits, but leaves out the commission's recommendation that one of the buildings be reconfigured to eliminate wetlands disturbance.

Earlier in the day, the council heard concerns from County Engineer Michael Izzo that proposed construction on Cedar Neck Road near Ocean View is exceeding the county's estimates of development along that road -- which could cause problems for the county sewer lines now being installed there.

Izzo said applications, including those for two developments on the site of the Old Mill Crab House for 208 units, "are coming in higher than we proposed," when designing the Cedar Neck sewer system. He said the higher numbers, if approved by the council, could require the county to "oversize" the system, which would add to its cost and decrease its efficiency.

Izzo recommended that the county reduce the number of homes in the project to 123 -- the number of homes estimated by the engineering department for the site. He added that there are two other projects on the books with higher proposed numbers of units than the county had anticipated.

In Other Business ...
  • Council approved a $2.8 million bid by American Paving of Salisbury, Md. for a section of the Cedar Neck sanitary sewer project.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Delaware Chapter, $500 for purchase of fatal vision goggles.

    • Sussex County Animal Association, $250 for renovations to mobile van, contingent on completion of project.

    • Delaware Storm Girls' Softball Team, $300 for tournament expenses.

    • Sussex Chix Girls' Softball Team, $200, operating and tournament expenses.

    • Laurel Alumni Scholarship Foundation Inc., $200 for scholarship funding.

    • Town of Selbyville, $400, ball field and equipment.

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