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Sussex County Council ...

Council OKs Multi-Family
Projects Near Ocean View
P.M. Hearing Coverage Coming Later

By KERIN MAGILL
SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council approved applications on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 from a Philadelphia developer for 208 multi-family units on Cedar Neck Road near Ocean View.

The Courts at Old Mill will consist of 48 apartments and The Lakes at Old Mill will consist of 114 condominiums and 46 townhomes. Caldera Properties L.P. had submitted applications for conditional use permits for two parcels, one 13 acres and currently occupied by the Old Mill Crab House, and another 40 acres owned by Virginia Steele.

The parcels are located on the west side of Sussex Road 357 (Cedar Neck Road), across from another new community, Bethany Lakes, being developed by Toll Brothers.

The council had deferred action on the projects in February, after council member George Cole asked for more time to gather information on traffic and utilities.

Earlier this month, County Engineer Michael Izzo expressed concern about projects along Cedar Neck Road exceeding the county's estimates for sewer service needs. Izzo recommended that the council reduce the number of units in The Lakes at Old Mill from 160 to 123.

But when Cole made a motion for 123 units on March 25, it died for lack of a second. Earlier, County Administrator Robert Stickels had said he'd met with Izzo since the county engineer made his recommendation and that more sewer capacity had been discovered -- 41 equivalent dwelling units (EDUs) from Bethany Lakes, which is being developed at a lower density than the county expected, and 271 units on 82.7 acres off Hickman Road purchased by the state.

Cole, however, said the council should still follow Izzo's initial recommendation. He voted in favor of the application for The Courts at Old Mill, but against the application for The Lakes, saying the Courts' density at less than four units per acres follows the county's land use plan.

Voting for the project, council president Lynn Rogers said that since the county's original land use plan was adopted in 1997, "I don't believe we've approved but two conditional use applications over four units to the acre."

Although state Department of Transportation officials said they did not believe the projects would adversely affect traffic along Cedar Neck Road, Cole and other residents of the area disagreed in hearings on the projects.

Economic Stimulus Program Proposed

Sussex County Administrator Robert L. Stickels announced that county officials have been working on creation of an economic stimulus program involving low interest loans for towns.

Stickels said initially between $500,000 and $1 million would be available for towns to apply for. In order to be eligible, towns would have to be members of the Sussex County Association of Towns, would have to demonstrate their ability to repay the loan, and would have to have a five-year capital budget. Applications by the towns would have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of their town councils.

Eligible projects would bring new employment opportunities to towns throughout the county, Stickels said. Funding could be used to purchase land, to improve access roads or to purchase construction equipment, he said. The debt would be repaid from project revenues or from town taxes generated by the project. Each application would be capped at $250,000. Interest would be 1 percent annually; funds repaid to the county would be placed in the county's general fund.

Stickels and county Economic Director Steve Masten said the program would help make up for diminished state economic development programs. Masten said that "sometimes, $25,000 would make the difference" in whether a project moves forward or not. Applications would be reviewed by a committee similar to the one that reviews industrial revenue bonds, Stickels said.

In Other Business ...
  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • Delaware District III, Major League Softball Eastern Region Tournament, $2,000.

    • Woodbridge Little League, operating expenses, $750.

    • March of Dimes Walk America, sponsorship of Orange Juice Toast, $1,000.

    • Georgetown Little League, clearing of new field site, $750.

    • Friends of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, centennial celebration, $200.

    • Broadkill Beach Preservation Association, portable toilets, $500 maximum.

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