Sussex County Delaware

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Sussex County Council ...

Inland Bays Development
Regulations Introduced

By KERIN MAGILL
SC Online Content Editor

GEORGETOWN -- Sussex County Council introduced the first of more than a dozen ordinances slated to give "teeth" to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan that was revised in late 2002.

The first ordinance, introduced at council's regular meeting on Tuesday, June 10, 2003, would make law a set of steps developers must take when planning a project in the Environmentally Sensitive Development District surrounding the Inland Bays.

County Land Use Planner Richard Kautz said the proposed ordinance has two main purposes: to dovetail with new state land use legislation requiring developers of large subdivisions to meet with state environmental and transportation officials and to get the developers to look at issues such as traffic and environmental impact very early in the planning process.

Council member George Cole, R-Cedar Neck, said he doesn't feel the ordinance goes far enough. "What's different?" Cole asked. "This is what we already do. Where is that extra level of security? I don't see anything (in the ordinance) beyond the call of duty, and that's what I thought we were looking for."

Kautz said that although the steps in the proposed ordinance are already in the land use plan, the new ordinance "would make it a matter of law."

Issues that developers would need to address in the preliminary stages of a development would include:

  • Drainage;

  • Wetlands mitigation;

  • Recreation;

  • Endangered species; and

  • Wildlife habitat.

A separate ordinance will be introduced in the coming weeks addressing buffer zone requirements around the Inland Bays.

The proposed ordinance would impact developments of 50 homes or more. Cole said he felt it should also address smaller developments. "Should there be a provision in there for cumulative impact?" -- the effect that even small developments have when they are all put together -- Cole asked.

Cole also suggested that perhaps Planning Director Lawrence Lank should take a different role in the land use planning process. "In my opinion, as the land use director, you should tell us if there's something you don't like." Lank, he said, "has not taken an active role in questioning these applications.

But County Administrator Robert Stickels said Lank's position is administrative, not legislative. Council president Lynn Rogers defended Lank, saying, "there's never been a question he's not answered. He will make suggestions about the law as it is written."

Krautz was hired earlier this year as the county's first trained land use planner.

A hearing will be scheduled on the proposed ordinance.

Council Opposes Senate Bill 66

Sussex County Council members voted to oppose Senate Bill 66, which would enable Delaware counties and towns to impose a tax on residents of a particular area in order to fund a project in that area.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Robert L. Venables, D-Laurel, would also provide for the establishment of Special Development Districts (SDD). The tax increment funding (TIF) and the SDD funding would come from bonds paid for by taxes paid only by residents of the area affected by the project -- meaning that only those who benefit from the growth and development would bear the burden of paying for it.

The special taxes would be implemented through agreements between the county or municipality and the developer; projects would have to be approved by either the town or the county. The Sussex council members expressed concern that the financing could be used for residential development instead of commercial development. County Council member George Cole, R-Cedar Neck, said the tax incentive financing program "is designed to rebuild inner cities."

County Administrator Robert Stickels said the county has already heard from "one developer who wants us to fund his whole project."

Although the council discussed merely asking to be exempted from the legislation, County Attorney James Griffin told the members "there's no point to support legislation you have no intention of taking advantage of." County Finance Director David Baker said before the county supports the legislation, "there should be a major benefit to the county." Baker also said he would like to see "strong criteria" for projects to be included in the program.

The council voted 4-1 to oppose the legislation, with council member Vance Phillips the only member voting against opposing it. After a recess, Stickels told the council that Venables had called asking the council to reconsider its opposition, but the vote stood.

Ellis Point Development Gets Council Nod

Rezoning for a 56-home development proposed near Holts Landing State Park received approval from Sussex County Council on Tuesday, June 10, 2003.

The Ellis Point development was approved with 17 conditions, including the requirement that the developer, Caldera - Indian River II, L.L.C., meet with the neighboring property owners to work out ways to ensure the safety of a borrow pit on the neighbor's property that abuts the road into the project site.

In Other Business ...
  • Council heard the following proposed ordinances:
    • Conditional Use 1509, in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred, for garage and storage on 1.071 acres, by Duane Moseley.

    • Conditional Use 1510, in Cedar Creek Hundred, for a campground on 32.48 acres, by Elmer Fannin.

    • Conditional Use 1511, in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred, for a produce stand on 0.91 acres, by Anthony Freeman.

    • Change of Zone 1519, in Cedar Creed Hundred, from General Residential to Agricultural/Residential on 32. 48 acres.

    • Change of Zone 1520, from Medium Residential to C-1, General Commercial, on 22,500 square feet in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred.

    • Change of Zone 1521, from Agricultural/Residential to C-1, General Commercial, by First State Storage Co.

  • Council approved the following grant requests:
    • American Red Cross, $400, for Volunteer Recognition Dinner

    • Enter second grant request here.


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